On Monday (11 Dec), Peter Dutton threw out accusations of “lying” and “propaganda‘ and Malcolm Turnbull appeared on Q&A congratulating his coalition government for saving lives at sea, putting the people smugglers out of business and and having “one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world“, making the real issue that …
ALL Australians need access to the FACTS:
Fact #1. NONE of above claims are true
Australia’s punitive asylum seeker policies – including offshore and mandatory detention – have NOT prevented people who are fleeing oppression and danger from drowning at sea NOR have they shut down the business of people smuggling.
While the number of recorded deaths directly off the northern coast of Australia may have reduced since Australia’s turn back and non-resettlement strategy, the numbers of desperate people taking risks on unsafe boats supplied by people smugglers are ever-increasing and since the only routes available are longer and more treacherous, there are more people drowning as a result.
Fact #2. The many other negative claims made about asylum seekers who arrive by boat without proper documentation are also NOT TRUE
THE TRUTH is:
- None of those arriving by this desperate method are ‘illegals‘
(The UN Convention on Refugees, to which Australia is a signatory, states that anyone who has a well-founded fear of persecution should be viewed as a refugee and not be labelled an ‘illegal immigrant’ because the very nature of persecution means that their only means of escape may be via unauthorised entry and/or the use of false/no documentation.)
- Almost all of the people seeking asylum who reach Australia this way are legitimate refugees
(e.g. the rate of visas granted to people arriving from Afghanistan by boat since 2009 has varied between about 96% and 100% while the rate of visas granted to those applying for asylum on arrival from China by air is between 20% and 30%)
- People arriving in Australia on unauthorised boats don’t pose any greater threat than any other group of people arriving by other means
(Those reaching Australia under these circumstances always undergo comprehensive security and health checks which include identity verification, formal police clearances and extensive medical history checks and examinations)
- People who have to use unsafe boats to escape oppression, danger and other intolerable circumstances are not queue jumpers because there is no queue.
(The UNHCR only has a fraction of offers from well-resourced countries to resettle people compared to the millions of refugees who require resettlement, so people who find themselves stranded indefinitely in a place where they have no citizenship rights have no means of working, earning money or accessing education or permanent accommodation. So they have no future and no hope that things will ever change)
- Australia is NOT and NEVER HAS BEEN in danger of being swamped by refugees arriving by boat
(The number of people who require asylum who reach Australia by sea has always been very very small – it is less than 1½% of new migrants)
Fact #3. The Prime Minister and Immigration Minister must be well aware of this …
… because the source of the facts in #2 (above) is a document called “Asylum Seekers and Refugees: What are the Facts?“ on the Australian Parliament website, a research paper that was updated in March 2015 under the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott.
In addition, there are numerous other documents that have all been commissioned under governments that use deterrent policies (including offshore detention). There is even an entire webpage devoted to Immigration Detention in Australia which includes the following quote:
there is no credible evidence that the threat of mandatory detention stops people from seeking refuge, but may instead be ineffective as a deterrent and lead to more risky unauthorised migration trends. UNHCR has stated that ‘detention is generally an extremely blunt instrument to counter irregular migration. There is no empirical evidence that the threat of being detained deters irregular migration or discourages people from seeking asylum.’
There are multiple references on the Parliament webpage including reports commissioned by governments from both sides of politics as well as credible external evidence and expert input (some of references and links at the base of this post are just a few.)
So Malcolm Turnbull cannot continue to say (as he did a few days ago) that: “I don’t want people to drown again at sea on people smugglers’ boats” and “…if we allowed the people on Manus to come to Australia, the boats would start up again” if the truth is that more people are dying and that the people smuggling business flourishes as long as there are humanitarian disasters like the situations in Syria, Myanmar and too many other parts of the world.
FACT #4. Australia takes a very small amount of refugees in comparison with many other countries, particularly in relation to our wealth and population.
- the poorest countries of the world resettle the most refugees (see above)
- Australia is the only country employing mandatory detention and offshore processing of asylum seekers and
- the Australian government has recently been referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in relation to their treatment of people in offshore detention
For a nation with the resources, standard of living and security of Australia, no one who represents the country has anything to be proud of in regard to humanitarian efforts.
During his Q&A appearance, the Prime Minister said earnestly to Teela Reid (who had expressed sincere concern about his blunt negation of the proposal from the Uluru dialogue process): “People that don’t tell you the truth are misleading you, what I’m telling you is the truth“.
Is Malcolm Turnbull telling you the truth??
Is anyone in the Australian Government or the Opposition telling you the truth?
They should be.
But THE FACTS about people seeking asylum say otherwise.
Please use the buttons below the post to spread the word by social media. Facebook and Twitter are the best ways to engage people who continue to believe governments’ soundbites and don’t have the time to question or delve deeper. We have to help those people get easier access to the truth so that their opinions can be based on FACTS and not political manipulation.
Click on the linked (underlined) text above for source material or access the key documents via the links below.
Australian Parliamentary Library
Asylum Seekers and Refugees: What are the Facts?
Australian Parliamentary Library
Immigration Detention in Australia
Australian Parliamentary Library
Destination anywhere? Factors affecting asylum seekers’ choice of destination country
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University (2015 conference)
Operation Sovereign Borders, Offshore Detention and the ‘Drownings Argument
Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Sydney
Policy Brief #4: The Interdiction of Asylum Seekers at Sea: Law and (mal)practice in Europe and Australia
International Journal of Refugee Law
Australia and Asylum Seekers (Jane McAdam)