Source: The Age
Political editor, The Age
Australia’s refugee intake would increase to 50,000 a year, including 10,000 via a new “skilled refugee” category, under a policy to be announced by the Greens.
The policy would provide a “dignity package” for asylum seekers waiting for their claims to be processed in Indonesia and Malaysia to discourage them from attempting to come to Australia by boat.
It would also shut down the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, saving an estimated $2.9 billion over four years, most of which would be re-invested into “a fairer system that helps more people”.
The policy will be launched in the usually safe Labor seat of Batman in Melbourne on Saturday by Greens leader Richard Di Natale, the party’s immigration spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, and its candidate for the seat, social worker Alex Bhathal.
The Greens are targeting Batman as a potential gain in the double dissolution election that is expected on July 2.
Senator Hanson-Young rejected the expected criticism from the Coalition and Labor that the policy will encourage people smugglers to resume their trade between Indonesia and Christmas Island.
“This policy gives people a viable alternative,” she said. “If we give people a viable alternative, they will take it. They don’t want to have to pay people smugglers. They would prefer to work directly with the Australian authorities.”
Senator Hanson-Young has also called on Malcolm Turnbull to allow a woman, allegedly raped on Nauru while suffering an epileptic seizure, passage to Australia for a termination.
“My heart breaks for this young woman, and the government should be offering her every level of possible care, not dumping her in Port Moresby,” she said.
The case was another example of why centres on Nauru and Manus should no longer be used to hold refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely, she said.
“This just proves again that these places are gulags and we can’t continue to leave people languishing there, particularly women who are not safe on the island.”
Under the policy, Australia’s intake would rise from 13,750 to 50,000 a year; $500 million would be provided over four years to support organisations such as the United Nations refugee agency in the region; and “dignity packages” would be given to asylum seekers.
The packages would help the asylum seekers acess healthcare, education, English classes and work permits.