For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 19 May 2013.
Thursday was not one of the finest days for our federal parliament. As a result of a decision by a government that prides itself in championing a fair go for all, asylum seekers will effectively never be able to reach Australia, no matter how hard they try or how far they sail in their leaky boats.
In 2006, the Howard Government tried unsuccessfully to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone. This week the Gillard Labor Government succeeded in doing so. This means that all asylum seekers arriving by boat can be detained and processed at offshore facilities on Nauru and Manus Island.
No other country has ever excised its entire territory from the provisions of the Refugee Convention. Refugee advocates described the decision as one of the darkest days for human rights ever in Australia. Ninety-four per cent of aylum seekers arriving by boat are found to be refugees. Many children are among them. Federal politicians should hang their heads in shame at this blatant abrogation of our international responsibility to uphold human rights.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.