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April 19, 2021

Turnback policy pandering to politics of fear

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow immigration minister Richard Marles are pandering to the politics of fear by supporting the forced turnbacks of asylum seeker boats.

The Australian Labor Party, which aspires to be a party of the centre, is being asked by its leader to abandon its principles of fairness, compassion and respect for international law and copy the Liberal-National Coalition’s policy of forcing back people seeking protection from persecution.

No mainstream political party in any country is prepared to support such an extreme policy and even a far right party like the UK Independence Party thinks Australian policy is too hard-line.

Around the world, fair-minded people are astounded that a country like Australia appears happy to undermine international law, snub its nose at its neighbours and jettison any notion of compassion towards vulnerable people.

If the policy being promoted by Mr Shorten and Mr Marles were copied around the world, the global system of asylum would collapse overnight and refugees would be left to face death at the hands of their persecutors.

As the world faces the challenge of 59.5 million displaced people, 19.5 million of them recognised refugees, Australia’s unilateral response is unsustainable.

Not only is Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, turning its back on persecuted people, it is actively encouraging other nations to do the same.

As refugees find fewer and fewer places of safety, the world will see more despair, more desperate people undertaking dangerous journeys and more deaths.

Across Asia, many refugees are struggling to find food, shelter and the most basic levels of freedom – while Australia is spending $636,000 per year to lock up each asylum seeker it sends to detention on Nauru.

At a time when the world needs constructive leadership, Mr Shorten and Mr Marles are pandering to the politics of fear offering nothing more than a unquestioning imitation of the appalling policies of their political opponents.

Paul Power, chief executive officer, Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)



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  1. Very altruistic notions Paul but not realistic. Australians enjoy a generally good standard of living and personal security which we value.

    Flood our country with people who are culturally and religiously incompatible and you change the whole dynamic of our society. We don’t want it. Full stop.

    Pauls conscience, I suspect, is driven by the unquenchable greed of the economic powers in New York and Brussels.

    The goal is to populate the Antipodes with cheap labour comprising a vast majority of illiterate poor capable only of tilling the soil and unskilled work. They look forward to a retirement of poverty and suffering and death becaise they will not be able to access affordable medical treatment.

    Stand up Australians and demand quality immigration that will improve our standard of living not undermine our wage rates and working conditions.

    I suspect most of us feel that way but don’t want to say it.


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