Julia Gillard announced on the 13th of October that she cannot execute her Malaysia solution and will now revert to on-shore processing of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
The prime minister said she remained committed to the Malaysia deal but the government had forsaken the plan to bring the legislation to a lower house vote on Thursday as key crossbench MP Tony Crook said he could not support it.
Although the Greens were also unlikely to agree to the legislative changes Ms Gillard says the blame lies with Tony Abbott, she said, “it will continue to be this government’s policy that the Malaysia arrangement should be implemented with an associated processing centre on PNG “.
Julia Gillard said the bill to change the high court ruling and give the government the power to send asylum seekers to Malaysia-“would remain before parliament indefinitely in case Mr Abbott should ever wake up and decide to support it”.
The grassroots community advocate GET UP (action for Australia) welcomed the government’s decision to return to processing Asylum seekers onshore, but warned without an increase in humanitarian intake, asylum seekers will continue to make the dangerous boat journey.
Get Up acting national director Skye Laris said, “while onshore processing is only now being considered because the government has tried and failed to implement other methods, it’s great that there is now an opportunity for it to step up and show the leadership it should have all along.”
“We welcome the government decision to fast-track the process of asylum seekers, as it is not only more cost effective to move asylum seekers out of detention as quickly as possible, it is also more humane,” Ms Laris said.
“Accessing work and finding a home in the community is also an excellent commitment and one that will hopefully spell the end of the mental ill-health factories we currently process the world’s most vulnerable in.”
Ms Laris also said that it was important that we still take the 4,000 refugees agreed to under the Malaysia deal but that it should be in addition to our humanitarian intake not in place of it.
And that “between 1, July 2009 and February 28th this year Australia granted 518 humanitarian visas to people in Malaysia, however not one went to someone from Afghanistan or Iraq-where the majority of people arriving by boat have fled,
by gradually increasing the humanitarian intake, targeting that increase within our region and stepping up our diplomatic efforts, we can reduce boats departing Malaysia and Indonesia.”
An open letter to the Australian Parliament supports principles included in GETUP and ERC policy paper, “Refugee and Asylum seeker policy: A Third Way”, which calls for much of what has been announced.
The Gillard government is to make further announcements on asylum seekers in the coming weeks.