Originally produced for Monash University’s Spectrum website. First published September 22 2011. Re-published September 29 2011.
A refugee spokesperson has told Monash university’s Spectrum that Australia can easily accommodate refugees, criticising politicians for encouraging a fear of “boat people.”
Campaign Coordinator of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Pamela Curr said that political motives have caused an immigration crisis.
“We’re really reaching a crisis point, and yet we really don’t have the numbers to cause us a crisis… We could easily settle these people,” Ms Curr said.
“It’s not a crisis of numbers, it’s a crisis of will.”
Parliamentary records show the number of asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat this year reached 1675 in June, compared to a total of 148 in 2007.
Liberal MP Andrew Robb told Spectrum that Howard-era policies discouraged asylum seekers from putting their lives in “jeopardy” by travelling to Australia by boat.
“The Pacific Solution did work,” Mr Robb said.
“It discouraged people smugglers.”
But analysis of these policies suggests they encouraged more children onto boats.
Ms Curr blames politicians for encouraging fear of asylum seekers and politicising the issue.
“Malcolm Fraser did not ask the Australian people if we wanted to accept [boat people], he just did it,” she said.
Fraser left the Liberal party in response to its immigration policy.
Number of asylum seekers arriving by boat in the last decade, compared with Fraser’s peak and low.
Data from http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/sp/boatarrivals.htm
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