December 02, 2012
GREENS leader Christine Milne says the federal government’s hardline policy of deterring asylum seekers has led to people drowning at sea and should be abandoned.
Senator Milne says the government and the coalition have decided to work together on a deterrence strategy that will not work.
“It was a failure from the minute that they opened their mouths in Canberra and this rush to say ‘we have got to do something’, and ‘aren’t we good because we did something’, we have had a record number of people risking their lives at sea,” she told ABC Television on Sunday.
“I haven’t seen people going back to either Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard and accusing them (of) facilitating people drowning at sea. That is in fact the outcome of this absolutely botched attempt and they should go back to square one and abandon what is an awful policy of deterrence.”
Following the report of the expert panel on asylum seekers headed by former defence chief Angus Houston, the government resumed offshore processing and adopted a “no advantage” test for those arriving by boat.
Senator Milne says the recommendation for a return to offshore processing is completely inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations.
She says she isn’t telling the government “it’s my way or the highway” in opposing the panel recommendations.
“We went to the government and argued strongly for an increased humanitarian intake, more money to go into Indonesia to accelerate regional assessment, we talked about safety of lives at sea, encoding that in legislation,” she said.
“Deterrence never works. We actually have to go get people out of Indonesia and give them a safe passage to Australia in the context of our international obligations.”