Pirate Party Australia is pleased to announce its policy on asylum seekers that calls on all members of the region to share responsibility for the handling of refugees. The policy incorporates advice from leading experts including the Refugee Council of Australia and Julian Burnside, QC and represents Pirate Party Australia’s commitment to evidence-based policies.
The policy was proposed at the National Congress this year, and its passing was almost directly followed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ condemnation of the Rudd Government’s plan for settling asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea.
Under the Pirate Party’s policy, Australia would lead a capacity building initiative to upgrade facilities across the region, encourage regional partners to sign the refugee convention, and create a shared processing arrangement. Asylum seekers arriving anywhere in the region will be subject to a single process, removing specific incentives to risk travelling all the way to Australia. A transparent allocation process would ensure each nation takes on a share of asylum seekers, reducing disputes and allowing information to be pooled.
“We currently spend over $1 billion annually on detention facilities, which could be diverted into actually solving the issue and making our region take collective responsibility for asylum seekers,” said Joe Miles, lead Victorian Senate candidate. “The hardline stance recently taken by the Australian Labor Party fails to take any responsibility for the root causes — people are seeking asylum here because we were one of the few countries accepting refugees. Settlement in Papua New Guinea, a nation with a crime rate so high that the Australian Government itself warns travellers, a nation that refuses to legalise homosexuality, is not a solution.”
“On the other hand, the Coalition’s ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ policy sweeps the problem under the carpet. Asylum seekers are the symptom, not the problem. Seeking asylum is lawful, and we should be encouraging our neighbours in the region to assist in processing asylum seekers so that they don’t have to risk their lives by travelling all the way to Australia but are instead able to seek asylum in a dignified, humane manner.”
This policy ensures that the responsibility for the processing of asylum seekers and settling of refugees is a regional responsibility, not just the responsibility of Australia. The process is to be overseen by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or by an independent, expert organisation.
Under the Pirate Party’s policy, refugees would be provided with essential services, a basic income, a right to work and a pathway to citizenship, with families being kept together. Although preferences for a destination nation may be taken into account, final decisions would be made in line with agreed quotas.
Closure of offshore detention centres will free up funds, which can be redirected in order to provide incentives for regional nations to sign the Refugee Convention and engage with the Australia-led plan. Additional resources will allow participant nations to clear existing backlogs and speed future processing times, develop humane processing practices and improve support services in destination countries.