9th July, 2010

The Australian Greens refugee policy is a compassionate, commonsense
alternative to the way the old parties want to treat vulnerable
asylum-seekers, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens Spokesperson on Immigration and Human
Rights, says the Federal Government’s ill-prepared East Timor processing
centre idea coupled with the Coalition’s return to the days of the
notorious Temporary Protection Visas and the Pacific Solution, shows
both parties are devoid of real leadership on this issue.

“Australia needs to take a genuine leadership role on helping to manage
asylum seekers in our region,” Senator Hanson-Young said. “That means
assessing people on our soil, increasing the number of refugees we
resettle here and convincing Indonesia and Malaysia to sign the UN
Refugee Convention.  

“That’s why the Greens would close the failed Christmas Island detention
centre in favour of community reception centres based in mainland

“By ending Australia’s reliance on offshore processing, the Greens would
no longer allow the Federal Government to put vulnerable asylum-seekers
out of sight, out of mind.

“By increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake, the Greens would move
Australia to take greater responsibility for dealing with the growing
numbers of people already approved as genuine refugees by the UNHCR, who
are languishing in detention overseas awaiting a new home.

“By moving to mainland processing in metropolitan centres, the Greens
would ensure greater access to much-needed support and services for
those fleeing persecution, rather than maintaining a regime of punitive
detention on remote islands or “desert prisons”.

The Greens would:

* Close Christmas Island and use a portion of the money already
earmarked for use on the island – $973 million over four years – to set
up Community Reception Centres in mainland cities.
* Set up a grants-based Asylum-Seeker Support Fund of $8 million over
four years to assist community organisations to provide essential
services for refugees and asylum-seekers. Organisations would apply for
a grant of up to $100,000 to assist in the delivery of case management,
health care, emergency relief, social support and housing support. The
fund would be administered by the Department of Immigration and
* Push Australia to take a leading role in the region by hosting any
regional processing centre.
* Increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000 refugees – focusing
on those already waiting in detention camps in the region.
* Move to end the detention of children in Australia.
* Champion the Greens’ bill to establish a Commonwealth Commissioner for
Children and Young People to protect young non-citizens who have arrived
in Australia without support.
* Move to introduce judicial review for detention decisions.

“Recent polling shows the Australian public understand the realities
better than some of their leaders – 83 per cent believe those fleeing
persecution deserve protection in another country and 94 per cent would
use every asset at their disposal to flee to another country if their
own lives and their families’ lives were under threat,” Senator
Hanson-Young said.

“It’s time to get past the idea of punishing people who are fleeing
persecution and instead focus on faster processing to work out who the
genuine refugees are. Australia can do better, and the Greens have a
plan to make it happen.”

                  MEDIA CONTACT: ANDREW McGARRY – 0427 604 760

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