Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Gillard denies basic rights to refugees

The Gillard Government is again stepping up the attack on refugees rights with legislation that will effectively excises the entire Australian coastline from Australia’s migration zone. This will mean all asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be denied their basic rights and sent to offshore processing centres.

By excising the Australian coastline the Government will be able to continue to ignore the rights outlined in the United Nations refugee convention, to which Australia is a signatory.

Identical legislation was introduced by former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard in 2006. At the time, the Labor Opposition vocally opposed the move, with current Immigration Minister Chris Bowen labelling it “a stain on our national character”. Howard eventually could not pass the legislation due to opposition from within his own party.

This latest move finalises the process of the Gillard Government adopting all of the anti-refugee policies of the hated Howard Government. With severe budget cuts in the works the Government is desperately trying to distract people by scapegoating refugees. This cynical trick was first demonstrated by the Liberal Party, but is now very much part of Labor policy.

Offshore processing of refugees has been proven to be far more expensive than processing in the community and only benefits the private companies who run detention centres. The solution is to challenge to system that creates war, poverty and refugees. We need to reject capitalism and fight for a socialist world where human need is valued over private profit.