Labor's 'East Timor Solution'

200px-35_Vietnamese_boat_people_2.JPEGThis letter was sent by AJDS to the mainstream print media on 7 July 2010.
In a world without recognition of human rights, or humanitarian concerns, or human dignity, or sense of justice, it would be logical, acceptable and valid to treat asylum seekers as badly as possible as a way of discouraging others.
Some in our community think that these sorts of attitudes should underpin the way our federal government deals with the issue of asylum seekers. Some in our parliament think that good public policy necessitates relegating humanitarian considerations to the fringe. After all, how can you discourage asylum seekers if you start by treating them as people in need?

Vilification and Villawood was the approach taken by the Howard government and now by Tony Abbott in opposition. And the more the opposition tries to find ways to discredit asylum seekers, the more they justify the fear felt in our community and add to the fear that motivates asylum seekers in the first place.
There are no quick fixes and simple policies that will stem the flow of refugees fleeing from conflict, persecution, harassment and displacement. In selling its regional approach to refugees, the federal government also has a strong obligation to move this discussion to a level well above the politics of fear, and allay the anxieties in the community, with leadership that upholds the values of fairness, dignity and humanity that we believe are fundamental to Australia in the 21st century.
But if the fear of electoral consequence by both Labor and the Coalition ultimately drives a debate which nurtures fear, we are all diminished by that act of cowardice.

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