Senator Dastyari said five principles should underpin the offshore processing regime if it is to continue – greater transparency in the form of open access to offshore processing facilities, fair access to legal assistance, faster processing and improved care for asylum seekers.
Most significantly, Senator Dastyari has called for an independent review of every asylum seeker case by the refugee tribunal.
The softly, softly approach on asylum policy lasted six months for the ALP. Dastyari is one of a handful of people in the ALP who is able to seriously start this conversation.
And he’s right. Offshore, regional processing does not have to be this way. Secret and nasty, brutish. At the moment, there is no processing on Manus Island. It’s not processing, it’s offshore detention.
I would echo the call in particular for transparency, legal assistance and recourse. In conjunction with an increase to the humanitarian program, the ALP can have an asylum policy which recognises Australia has a role to play in this global issue, defines a genuine regional framework and treats people with respect. The young Hazara men profiled in this piece – Taking the Carrot – should not be forced to wait forever.
The most successful period of Australian asylum policy – participation in the post-Vietnam asylum resettlement scheme – was integrated into a regional approach. While the scope and scale is vastly different today than it was then, similar notions of cooperation should be at the heart of Australian policy. Manus and Nauru shouldering this burden alone isn’t good enough.