From the ABC:
Asylum seeker policy ‘an appeal to fear and racism’
A social justice advocacy group says it is concerned that both sides of politics are attacking asylum seekers in the lead-up to the federal election.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he wants a return to Howard-era policies including temporary protection visas and processing asylum seekers in other countries.
But the director of the advocacy group the Edmund Rice Centre, Phil Glendinning, says the proposals are “an appeal to fear and racism”.
“The situation on Nauru was not properly resourced, people did not have access to rights of appeal or to law, and it was in serious contravention of Australia’s obligations,” he said.
“It wasn’t about the UN, it was about Australia. Ultimately, people who come into our jurisdiction seeking asylum have done nothing illegal; their claims need to be assessed fairly and justly.”
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has defended the Coalition’s plan.
“It’s a problem we solved in government last time and its a problem we’ll be called on to solve in government again if we’re elected,” he said.
Mr Morrison would not say which countries the Coalition hoped would take the asylum seekers, arguing that would be negotiated after the election.
Mr Glendinning says under the Howard-era policy some asylum seekers were sent back and killed in countries including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
“I think that is a bridge way too far in order to win an Australian election,” he said.
He also criticised the Government for suspending the processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum claims.
“That sort of measure opens the window for the Coalition to become far more extreme and to provide this grab bag of prejudices and fear,” Mr Glendinning said.
Amnesty International has also reprimanded the Government for the suspension of asylum seeker claims.