THE asylum seeker policies of both sides of politics is dreadfully un-Australian.
What we have in common with all asylum seekers is that we are human and yet our nation’s leaders try to dehumanize these people. Access to detention centres is barred to all journalists and no attempt through story, interview or photo to get to know them and present their views is permitted.
Border protection is the catch phrase. Present rates of asylum arrivals are about 25,000 per year, 90 per cent of whom are found to be in genuine fear of persecution. That means there is one asylum seeker per 1000 Australians.
At these rates a town the size of Proserpine or Cannonvale/Airlie would therefore have about five asylum seekers from which its inhabitants would need protection, scary stuff.
They are accused of queue jumping but for 95 per cent there is no queue to jump. It has been calculated that if all refugees joined the queue it would take 195 years to reach the checkout.
The detention of a single asylum seeker in Australia or offshore, costs between $200,000 and $400,000 per year. Civil rights lawyer Julian Burnside suggests that they should only be detained for a month for medical and security checks to be carried out. Thereafter they should be released into the community on condition that they must stay in certain country areas which are currently suffering from depopulation.
They should be allowed to work, go to school, receive basic benefits of up to about $450 a fortnight which would amount to under $12,000 per year. All of which would be spent in that rural community. Think of the savings this system would give to our economy while at the same time helping destitute people. Australians are part of the world’s elite 20 per cent who have access to 80 per cent of its resources. Is it too much to ask our leaders to show some humanity? Peter Harling RIORDANVALE