Federal Labor Richmond MP Justine Elliot has fallen in line with the right faction of her party to adopt the ‘option’ of keeping Tony Abbott’s refugee ‘turnback’ policy if elected.
The issue was debated at last weekend’s Labor Party Conference in Melbourne, which saw Anthony Albanese from the left vote against the policy – and lose.
Ms Elliot says, ‘Despite the best intentions, a terrible loss of life took place on Labor’s watch.
‘We can’t allow people smugglers to reopen the perilous journey from Java to Australia again.
‘This journey is all about people smuggling: criminal syndicates, making a great deal of money, taking advantage of vulnerable people with the result that 1,200 asylum seekers died on our border in less than three years.’
She says if elected, Labor would increase UNHCR funding, abolish Temporary Protection Visas and ‘by 2025, Labor will double Australia’s annual refugee intake to 27,000.’
She added that Labor would provide independent oversight of facilities, and create an independent statutory advocate to protect the interests of children seeking asylum.
‘We will also legislate mandatory reporting of any instances of abuse of children in immigration detention.’
But the decision has ‘dismayed’ federal Greens spokesperson Dawn Walker, who says, ‘Labor had an opportunity on the weekend to stand up against the cruelty of turnbacks and the suffering of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, but sadly they failed.’
‘No matter how the Labor leadership tries to explain why they’ve made this decision, the truth is this is a race to the bottom where human rights, the law and decency are sacrificed,’ Ms Walker said.