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Where do major political parties stand on refugees and asylum seekers - Marlene's letter to local papers 22 May 2016

My letter  sent it to the editors  of the following local papers :  Guardian News, Coffs Coast  Advocate and Bellingen Courier Sun. It’s possible that the editors may decide it is too political and so I prefaced the letter by reference to RAR being a non party political group. We will just have to see what the editors  decide. 
Dear Editor ,
I am writing the letter below on behalf of RAR which is a non party political group. I am not setting out my own views but trying to summarise the positions on policy of the main parties on these issues. I then leave it to readers to decide which way to go.

I am writing this letter as a supporter and member of our local RAR Group ( Rural Australian’s For Refugees) which is a non party political group. 
 Electioneering is well underway so it is a good time to examine the positions of the major parties on refugee and asylum seeker issues. 
The Coalition’s policy is that indefinite detention of refugees and their families should continue,  boat arrivals  should continue to be turned back, offshore processing on Manus and Nauru should also continue.  These policies underline the basic belief  that asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention should not under any circumstance  be resettled in Australia even if they are found to be genuine refugees. They will be encouraged to return home where they may fact torture and persecution or to resettle in some other relatively poor country such as PNG or Cambodia .
There are some differences between Labor and Coalition policy. For example Labor states that it would   increase the numbers of humanitarian intake of refugees over and above the figure proposed by the Coalition -this however this would be  on a very long proposed timescale leading to 2025.  Labor would also support a significant increase in funding to UNHCR to assist and speed up the processing process. 
However, Labour policies are identical to the Coalition on many key issues. Labor supports the policy of turning back the boats and the retention of offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus . The Labor leader, Bill Shorten made the point this last week that there are millions of migrants and refugees that have contributed greatly to Australian life and prosperity.  In spite of this, current  Labor policy, like the Coalition’s policy , advocates the resettlement of refugees from Manus and Nauru “ anywhere but Australia”.
Finally, let’s examine where the Greens stand on all of this.  The Greens Party supports the closure of offshore detention centres and so is campaigning for an end to the brutal and inhumane treatment of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island . They support an immediate and significant increase in the humanitarian intake number. The Greens also advocate bringing asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus to Australia for processing and support the resettlement of those found to be genuine refugees in  Australia. 
The election will soon be upon us and so an assessment of the policies of the major parties on refugee and asylum seeker issues needs to be considered alongside other major election issues before we cast our votes. It will soon be decision time and so it’s  a good time to reflect on these issues between now and election day .  

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