Only the Greens are treating the needs of refugees as a humanitarian issue, by offering effective and humane proposals that put people's lives first.
The ALP would like you to think they care about asylum seekers - but the truth is, they don't. The government is looking for a political fix, not a solution that will help refugees.
The years of ALP government have been a relentless march to an Abbott Coalition beat towards harsher policies that punish and demonise people who are asking for our help - all the while cynically claiming to be looking out for their best interests.
Regardless of the flurry of political debate, the Greens have been working for years towards a long-term and compassionate regional approach to helping refugees. We've been guided by those who know most about ensuring their safety - the UNHCR, Amnesty International, legal experts and advocates like the Refugee Council of Australia, and refugees themselves.
Like the Greens, these groups see through the false argument being pushed by both old parties that offshore processing in Malaysia or Nauru will save lives. The real aim of these so-called solutions is to push people who are fleeing persecution 'anywhere but here'. In punishing them for reaching Australia, it will still lead them to death and misery. Just in someone else's ocean.
The Greens are offering up genuine humanitarian proposals that would quickly show desperate people that there is a safer pathway than boarding a rickety fishing boat.
Our measures include showing our leadership and good faith as the region's richest nation by declaring that we will immediately resettle 1,000 refugees from Indonesia and 4,000 from Malaysia.
This would ease pressure on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In Indonesia, two UNHCR staff are expected to handle more than 8,000 claims, and the wait, if there were even a queue, would be decade-upon-decade long.
The Greens also propose the Australian Government give the UN agency an urgent injection of at least $10 million so it can do its essential work.
History has shown that people seeking safety are not deterred by the prospect of being sent to Nauru, Malaysia or elsewhere. John Howard's policies did not stop people getting on boats. Tragically, hundreds of women and children died in the sinking of the Siev X after the Pacific 'Solution' was established, not to mention those who died in detention on Nauru or were permanently affected by the extreme mental health crisis that arose there.
Temporary protection visas might sound like a tough deterrence measure, but the cold hard facts tell us they actually led to more people getting on to boats, as families had no other way of joining their loved ones.
The evidence is that Labor's desperate attempts to revive offshore processing, whether in Nauru or Malaysia, will not save lives. Both options would require that people get into dangerous boats, set out to sea, and be found and rescued; risking their lives in order to trigger the 'solution'.
The NGOs who work in the Asia-Pacific region who I've been speaking to are clear that both the Malaysia and Nauru 'compromises' would be devastating to any hope of safer, more orderly processes and better protections throughout our region.
We would only be compromising human lives. This is the strong message that the government failed to hear amidst the orchestrated panic of the parliamentary debate last week.
It is stunning to think the Malaysia Solution is being pressed on Australia by a government who, while in opposition, called offshore processing "costly and farcical" (Prime Minister Gillard), "cynical and ultimately unsuccessful exercise" (Minister Chris Evans), and an exercise in "dehumanising and demonising asylum seekers" (Minister Roxon).
Even now, voices of common sense and compassion are ringing out from within Labor's own ranks. Labor for Refugees announced last week that it is "embarrassed to say that only the Greens' solution identifies a decent and realistic way of stopping the boats".
The ALP chooses not to face the fact that people fleeing for safety is a lot bigger and more complex than a mere political blame game that ends at Australia's sovereign boundaries. It is in the interests of all nations in our region to work together to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis, based on regional assessment and resettlement, which has a life-saving impact before anyone boards a boat. People will keep running until they find safety and certainty.
The circumstances we face are not dissimilar to those that faced Malcolm Fraser's government, when Australia stood tall, worked with our neighbours to resettle 130,000 people of those escaping from Indochina and Vietnam. We must try this again simply because we care for our fellow human beings.
There has never been a more important time to throw out the destructive rhetoric that has dominated asylum politics for the last decade, and to take bold steps towards a lasting and humane regional solution guided by the Refugee Convention.
These immediate actions will let refugees know their pleas for protection are being taken seriously by Australia and there is no need to risk their lives on boats.
The challenge before us is to have the courage to do the right thing, to offer hope and sanctuary in Australia to these victims of persecution, now. Only by doing that can we save lives.
First published at The Drum http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4112022.html