30 October 2012

Petro Georgiou on playing the asylum seeker card

Let's hear it from former Liberal MP Petro Georgiou on the Government's scandalous and unprincipled intention to excise the whole of mainland Australia from the migration zone. Do not adjust your screen, this is not a typo, the Government wants to excise the whole of mainland Australia from the migration zone. That way boat arrivals will have no rights under the Refugee Convention (they could be apprehended walking down Martin Place and for the purposes of the Migration Act they would be deemed not to have arrived here).

That way the only people who would have any claim on us would be people who can successfully lie their way onto a plane by saying they want to come for a holiday or business, and then asking for asylum on arrival.

We would be more honest if we just denounced the Refugee Convention and said we are not interested in helping refugees anymore. Almost as sickening as the Government’s approach to asylum seekers is the way Ministers intone that we will abide by our obligations under the Refugee Convention. Don’t be taken in – we don’t go within a bull’s roar of abiding by a Convention that stipulates that people with a well-founded fear of persecution in their own country have a right to flee and claim asylum in a state that is party to the Convention; that detention will be used only as a last resort, that they will be able to ply their trade or profession at the going rate, that they will have access to the courts etc.

Far from excising the mainland from the Migration Zone, we should be returning Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands and Ashmore and Cartier Reef to the Zone, so that in respect of all territory under our jurisdiction we accept the responsibilities as well as claiming the rights. We are happy to draw 200 mile circles around tiny specks of land and claim any fish, oil, gas or minerals therein, but please don’t ask us to regard them as part of Australia when it comes to our obligations under the Refugee Convention.

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