Kudos, Labor . . .

30 07 2008

Tampa Refugees (Safdar Ali Hussaini)

. . . for winding down the mandatory detention of asylum seekers:

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia is ending its policy of automatic detention for asylum seekers who arrive in the country without visas, the government said Tuesday.Detention in immigration centers will be used only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said as he announced the policy change in a speech at Australian National University in the capital, Canberra.

Children and adults who are not considered a security risk will no longer be held, Mr. Evans said. The presumption will be that they will remain in the country while their status is resolved, he said. In addition, the cases of adults who are detained will be reviewed every three months.

Previously, illegal immigrants who reached the Australian mainland were immediately sent to detention centers while the government sifted through their claims for asylum, a process that could take years. (New York Times)

The Howard Government’s refugee policy, and worse than that, the enthusiastic support it received from many Australians, absolutely floored me when it reared its hideous head in the early 2000s. Hansonism in the hands of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party was a fad, and its public face very soon became a laughing-stock and an embarrassment. But, as many a Letters to the Editor page in the early years of this decade would attest, people were at best, indifferent, at worst seemed delighted about brown people from distant lands suffering physically and psychologically in desert camps. The issue galvanised my left-libertarian politics, to the consternation of many of my friends whose email inboxes I would regularly spam with articles condemning the practice. (How Web 1.0!) Read the rest of this entry »