Asy­lum seek­ers

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

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

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