So Why Does Our Policy Not Look More Like This?
Of late Australian Political life has surcommed to a stalemate over the discussion of Asylum Seekers. It is clear that we need to revisit the current policy as it is not meeting the needs of either Asylum Seekers or Australians in general.
Australia has a population around 23 million while the refugee population worldwide is around 43 million. We are broadly multicultural as a community, we are independant tolerant and diverse, and those who seek to join us should be people who share these values.
The number of boat arrivals for 2012 has already exceeded the boat arrivals for 2011, and this continues apace.The policy of confiscating vessels may well have proven counterproductive. The intention was to discourage the People Smuggling Trade, however the result may well have been to encourage the Industry to use only second rate vessels they are prepared to write off for a single voyage, therefore seaworthiness becomes a secondary consideration. The consistent loss of life is offensive to the average Australian.and an indication of a policy failure.
It seems reasonable to assume that we need a policy that improves our treatment of those who seek asylum, and for most of us that means a policy which provides a workable alternative to using people smugglers.
The Australian Public has a concern that numbers of those who arrive, arrive without paperwork and there is a consistent suggestion that they may have become disconnected from their paperwork somewhere between their arrival and their departure from Indonesia. Coupled with this is is a concern that some of those who arrive by boat may well have failed to gain a visa to travel to Australia have not been able to meet security and other concerns.
Australians are also concerned to ensure that those to whom we grant refuge are not felons evading capture and legal due process in other jurisdictions.
In 2011 we resettled something of the order of 40000 refugees of whom 4500 arrived by boat for visaless entry. These numbers seem miniscule in terms of the global problem, and most Australian would like to see our nation play our part in the solution.
Most people are born into a family and a community with tradition, heritage and belonging. We grow up in a place where we belong, and can be at home. For us, songs like ‘Give me a home amongst the Gumtrees ’ and ‘I still call Australia home’ are indicators of the importance of such a sense of belonging within our national psyche.
The dilemma of the refugee is that the place they call home has become fearful, violent, threatening an unsustainable to the point where people believe they have no alternative but to seek refuge in another country.
For some of these people the desire is for a permanent new homeland, whilst for others they seek respite for a time, until it is safe to return to the place of their forbears.
Clearly some who seek temporary refuge will ultimately acknowledge that ‘life is short’ and the new temporary home will become permanent; whilst other may believe that the destruction of safety in their homeland is permanent and yet it time safety may return that they may desire to return there.
The purposes of Border Protection include the security of our citizens, and our responsibility to the security of the international community ensuring that we do not offer safe haven to those who engage criminal or terrorist behavior.
As an Island Nation with a relatively small population we have significant borders and whilst we cannot fence and gate our borders we intend to protect our borders. For Australians, this is our homeland, or our adopted homeland, and we value it, we treasure it.
Offshore vs Onshore
Much of the current political impasse has been about how do we address processing those who arrive without visa. Christmas Island, Naaru, Malaysia, Manaus, East Timor, have continued to be discussed. We need to find a solution that addresses the problem at source.
Temporary Protection Visas
Temporary Protection Visas have received a lot of bad press, and in fact the current administration have revoked them. It seems reasonable to think that there could be a place for such a Visa. The general parameters for such a visa would be:
- Can be applied for at any Australian Embassy
- Requirement for identifying documents to ensure processing within 60 days.
- Not normally issued from within Australia
- You will be required to confirm residency and other details on a 90 day basis
- A Temporary Protection Visa will have a general expiry of 3 years, with a potential renewal for a further 3 years.
- During the life of a second visa those who seek permanent residency, may apply for permanent residency.
- Any serious breach of the criminal code may result in the immediate revocation to a temporary protection visa and return to the country of origin.
Visaless Entry to Australia is not the normal practice. Will will detain people who arrive without a visa. We will seek to process such applications within 120 days where the applicant has the appropriate documentation. Those who arrive without documentation will be processed within 365 days.
If we are unable to resolve the issues within that time we will return to applicant to their country of origin.
We strongly urge those seeking to enter Australia seeking Asylum to do so by way of a Visa. The Visa system is designed to offer the best protection to both Australian Citizens and to those seeking asylum.
Consistent with this new policy, and in order to take our place and responsibility within the world we are seeking to raise the quota for such acceptance at a rate of .5% of the population of Australia. With a Population of 23 Million that places the quota at present to 115,000. We are aware that there are nations who have done more than this, and many who have done less. We urge those nations to look at their capacity to help meet this huge need.
Our great challenge is to provide adequate infrastructure in our communities and we reserve the right to ask those who gain entry on a temporary protection visas to live in areas of our nation we determine.
Of the Applicant for a Temporary Protection Visa
- Honesty and Co-operation
- Good Behavior
- Acceptance of Others
- Production of all relevant available documentation to facilitate identification and processing
- Completion of relevant application forms
Of us To those who seek our Protection
- Honesty and Fair Dealing
- Timely processing of applications
Whilst in Residence on such a Visa
- Access to appropriate health care as available to all Australians
- Access to the care benefits available to all Australians
- Access to Education – especially for vocational upgrade and English Language
- Observance of our laws and regulations.
- Those of school ge to engage in education
- Those able to seek employment or other self supporting activities
Of those seeking Permanent Residency
- English – at least a reasonable effort to master the language
- Evidence of good conduct
Of Those Granted Permanent Residency
- To take your place alongside all Australians committed to our common good.
- The Opportunity to apply for Australian Citizenship
- To take their place on the electoral role and to participate constructively in our nation.