The end of softly, softly for the ALP on asylum policy

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.

4 thoughts on “The end of softly, softly for the ALP on asylum policy

  1. Here is where you are wrong on every count.

    1. during the Vietnam era the plan by Australia, the US and France was for jails to hold refugees for years on end until we bothered to help a few, also supposedly premised on the notion of stopping them drowning, except we put holes in boats in Malaysia to make them drown. And there was only one nationality that came from in the region.
    2. there are no other nations in the region we whinge about who are interested, but we do allow the UNHCR to refer refugees to 36 of our embassies and we do that so we can deny as many as possible, family reunion claims have to be made in Sydney or Melbourne.
    3. refugees have to be here by our own law to apply for protection, it’s not just a matter of a visa, it is a matter of upholding the 34 legally binding obligations and rights under the refugee convention which is domestic law at Articles 36 and 65 of the migration act and have been since 1992.
    4. resettlement is a hoax, people are not allowed to apply to Australia for re-settlement, they have to go through the UNHCR and they can only get grudging places for 1% of refugees which leaves them in limbo forever. Effective protection under the convention is the definition used by the UNHCR.
    5. the refugees all come from this mystery place called “”off shore”, the whole world is “”off-shore”” to Australia, swimming on any of our coast line is “”offshore”. When refugees arrive here to seek protection, they don’t get to be trafficked by us to any other place “”off shore””, they came from “”offshore”‘ (that used to be called overseas until we re-invented the wheel with our delusional language).
    6. Indonesia is not our country and is not now and nor have they ever been interested in being a dumping ground for refugees for us.
    7. the law is that everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution.

    Now if we let refugees apply themselves at our embassies overseas that could truly be “”offshore””, but letting them get all the way here safely to apply then sending them “”offshore”” where they cannot apply is deranged in the extreme.

    We don’t do that bullshit for tourists, students, migrants or anyone else, why do we do it only for those we promised to protect.

    1. I would say thanks for your comment Marlyn but I’m aware of your comments elsewhere on asylum policy and I don’t believe you are interested in a genuine conversation, only telling people why you are right and they are wrong.

      I disagree with most, not all, of what you say above however I don’t see the purpose in explaining my position as you are unwilling to consider other positions. Of course, this is your prerogative and that’s fine.

  2. Henry as I am citing Australian law, why is it you think I am wrong. WE are the only nation in the area who wants to have regional refugee assessments, that is code for saying don’t come here.

    I have actually done a good deal of work on this but perhaps you will believe Justice Merkel.

    “60 In any event, while it is literally correct to describe the applicant as an “unlawful” entrant and an “unlawful non-citizen” that is not a complete description of his position. The nomenclature adopted under the Act provides for the description of persons as “uinlawful non-citizens” because they arrived in Australia without a visa. This does not fully explain their status in Australian law as such persons are on-shore applicants for protection visas on the basis that they are refugees under the Refugees Convention.
    61 The Refugees Convention is a part of conventional international law that has been given legislative effect in Australia: see ss 36 and 65 of the Act. It has always been fundamental to the operation of the Refugees Convention that many applicants for refugee status will, of necessity, have left their countries of nationality unlawfully and therefore, of necessity, will have entered the country in which they seek asylum unlawfully. Jews seeking refuge from war-torn Europe, Tutsis seeking refuge from Rwanda, Kurds seeking refuge from Iraq, Hazaras seeking refuge from the Taliban in Afghanistan and many others, may also be called “unlawful non-citizens” in the countries in which they seek asylum. Such a description, however, conceals, rather than reveals, their lawful entitlement under conventional international law since the early 1950’s (which has been enacted into Australian law) to claim refugee status as persons who are “unlawfully” in the country in which the asylum application is made.
    62 The Refugees Convention implicitly requires that, generally, the signatory countries process applications for refugee status of on-shore applicants irrespective of the legality of their arrival, or continued presence, in that country: see Art 31. That right is not only conferred upon them under international law but is also recognised by the Act (see s 36) and the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) which do not require lawful arrival or presence as a criterion for a protection visa. If the position were otherwise many of the protection obligations undertaken by signatories to the Refugees Convention, including Australia, would be undermined and ultimately rendered nugatory.
    63 Notwithstanding that the applicant is an “unlawful non-citizen” under the Act who entered Australia unlawfully and has had his application for a protection visa refused, in making that application he was exercising a “right” conferred upon him under Australian law.”
    Now those four paragraphs make the law pretty clear and that was upheld by three more judges in the Full Court of the Federal court in April 2003 after Akram had been deported.

    Now Henry, as only one nation in the world thinks it is rational to break their own law, the law and constitutions of the neighbours and so on perhaps you could tell me just where you think I am wrong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s