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Monday 7 November 2016

Lifetime ban-ter

What's so wrong about a lifetime Visa ban for asylum seekers who had tried to enter Australia by boat? The proposed ban would prevent anyone who has come to Australia by boat from re-entering anytime in the future, even if they have citizenship from another country.

Sounds pretty harsh! After all it could be 40 years from now, when that person may have won a Nobel prize, and wishes to enter for a holiday. I guess these are some of the arguments.

But let's considers some facts; -
  • The government has a right to do this. The Australian government has a right to determine who enters the country, and certainly can and does prevent persons of 'doubtful' character from entering. So this declaration is not really novel.
  • The person has had fair warning. The Australian Government has already stated that no person who enters Australia by boat will be settled in Australia (courtesy of the Rudd ALP gov in 2013). So again this is not really novel.
  • It encourages re-settlement. While NZ has offered to accept some asylum seekers, the Australian government has not allowed this option as the open border between Aus and NZ would enable asylum seekers to circumvent Australia's stated policies. This would inevitably feedback to re-start the boats.
  • It hastens closure of the offshore processing centres at Manus/Nauru. While the proposed change will not suddenly empty the detention centres it will encourage asylum seekers to leave voluntarily. By firmly locking the door to settlement in Australia some will inevitably opt to return to their home countries, while others may receive the chance to be-settled in countries such as NZ.
While it may not serve the political purposes of the ALP /Greens and refugee advocates, the legislation can help asylum seekers and there is little downside.

Asylum seekers would far prefer to have an option for re-settlement in a country like NZ, Canada or US than hold-out on Naure/Manus for an indefinite period.  So by arguing against this measure asylum seeker advocates are arguing against the interests of those they claim to support!

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