Common misstatement: "If we bring refugees on Manus and Nauru to Australia, or take up the NZ resettlement offer, the boats will just start again."
Throughout history, people have risked their lives for the hope of a better life. Desperate people are always going to take desperate measures. Coming to Australia by boat is a last resort and a decision people seeking asylum when there is no other option to find safety.
That's why we should be doing whatever we can to create safe passage for refugees seeking our protection. It's about helping people before they have to get on a boat. After all, if any one of us feared for our life, or for our family we’d like to know that others would help us to safety.
However, there is nothing safe about the regional processing centres the Australian Government have opened and continue to run on Manus and Nauru. A humanitarian crisis in now unfolding on Manus Island, in addition to the countless reports of abuse, self-harm and neglect in the centres.
We have to get people out of harm's way and into safety. This includes accepting the New Zealand Government's offer to resettle 150 people from Manus and bringing people to safety in Australia.
Even John Howard, the original architect of the so-called 'Pacific Solution', resettled people on Manus and Nauru in Australia and New Zealand - and this did not result in an increase in people seeking asylum in Australia by boat.
If the Australian Government was really concerned about "stopping the boats" it would play a leading role in establishing a regional settlement arrangement that provided opportunities for safe passage for people seeking asylum.
What does safe passage look like? In the late-1970s and 1980s, people fleeing conflict in Indo-China did not have to get on a boat because there were safe places near their homeland where their claims for refugee status could be assessed and where an orderly resettlement process could take place. At the moment, there are very few safe places for people seeking asylum to go, and all the Government is doing (through its policies of boat turnbacks and offshore processing) is putting people back into harm's way. It's about helping people before they have no choice but to get on a boat.
For more information:
Kaldor Centre - Regional Cooperation
Nauru and Manus caseloads by outcome and resettlement country 2001-2008