CategoryRefugee Ethics

How do the parties compare? Asylum seeker and refugee policy


The world faces a refugee crisis. 20 million people are refugees and another 2 million are seeking asylum. There are three possible solutions for those who are refugees: that they returned home when it becomes safe to do so; that they settle down and build a new life in the country to which they first fled; that they resettle in a third country such as Australia. At present less than 2% are able...

Stopping the Boats Has Not Stopped the Deaths. Where’s the evidence?


In a number of posts on this site I have made the claim that stopping the boats has not stopped the deaths at sea. But is there a sound basis for claiming this? I believe there is. 1. Stopping the boats has not reduced the demand for protection At present there are 20 million refugees in the world and 2 million asylum seekers. Having fled their homelands they commonly live in great uncertainty...

Breathtaking mountains and despairing beyonds. On becoming human


The view is spectacular. Mountains and valleys that extend seemingly without end. The blue haze that gives the mountains their name. Sunlight striking a cliff-face. The rich green foliage of densely packed Australian bush. The vibrant red flower of a Waratah that has bloomed early. The song of birds in the air. It is incredibly beautiful. It inspires awe and wonder. I feel satisfied and at peace...

The dog whistling has begun and it is ugly


So the dog whistling has begun. The Guardian reported both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton claiming that we must keep asylum seekers out of Australia as a matter of national security. That they both use the same language makes it clear that this is a calculated line that they are spinning in the lead up to the next election...

A nauseating contrast. Or why it pains me to read the Daily Telegraph


What a nauseous and stunning contrast! Earlier this week both the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian Australia ran articles on the 30,000 asylum seekers living in Australia on bridging visas. These are people who are deemed to have arrived in Australia “unlawfully”, that is by a boat without any travel approvals, and arrived prior to the date from which boat arrivals started being sent...

Let them stay is only half the ask


Many Australians have been disturbed by the apparent intention of the Government to return refugees, including babies born in Australia, to detention on Nauru. They are, quite rightly I believe, asking for the Government to let them stay. But this is only half the ask we need to make. Offshore detention without the possibility of settling in Australia is a central plank of an effort to deter...

The offer of sanctuary that should shock and shame us


Yesterday the Anglican Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane announced that he would offer sanctuary in the cathedral to any asylum seekers and refugees in danger of being shipped to Nauru or Manus Island. Other cathedrals and churches around the country have made the same offer. Sanctuary is serious business. It has a long pedigree going back to the Old Testament era. If the offer is...

When the House fell silent. Question time, political theatre and the rights of vulnerable children


Question time in the Australian Parliament is political theatre at its best. The chamber is packed as each side tries to land a telling blow upon its opponent. Politicians jeer across the aisle; the Speaker tries to maintain a semblance of order; government members use questions as an excuse to pummel the opposition, frequently with scant regard for answering the question asked; opposition...

A diminished generosity. How Australia’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis pales in comparison to the efforts of our forebears


This week’s outpouring of empathy and compassion for those fleeing violence in Syria has been remarkable and has seen the commendable decision of our government to welcome 12,000 refugees from Syria in the next 12 months. As welcome as this decision may be, it’s simultaneously a signal of just how hardhearted we have become. In the Syrian refugee crisis the world is seeing the largest...

How we can win the debate on refugees


I listened last night to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkle, respond to the waves of irregular migration to Europe by reaffirming her country’s commitment to provide protection to those found to be refugees and Germany’s readiness to take 800,000 asylum seekers. The contrast with Australia couldn’t be greater. We accept no asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Not a single one. We ship them off to...


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