August 14, 2013
SIXTY-FOUR church groups, charities and refugee advocates have called for an end to the “negative and distorted” political debate on asylum seekers.
The non-government organisations (NGOs) say the federal government’s deterrent policies haven’t worked. They also took a swipe at the opposition’s “regressive” boat policies.
“The negative, distorted and myopic political debate on refugee and asylum seeker policy has been allowed to go on for far too long,” the NGOs said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is time for a new approach which focuses on protection rather than punishment, on facts rather than fear-mongering, and on long-term solutions rather than short-term political gain.”
They called for an end to offshore processing, prompt access to permanent protection and opportunities for refugees to reunite with family.
The NGOs issued their statement on the first anniversary since the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers handed down their recommendations to former prime minister Julia Gillard.
The NGOs acknowledged federal Labor had done some good work on asylum seekers, such as lifting Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000 but criticised the government for focusing on punitive deterrence-based measures such as offshore processing.
Signatories include the NSW Teachers Federation, the Australian Council of Social Service and the St Vincent de Paul Society.