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Australian Greens invest in refugee safety

Media Release
Christine Milne 31 Jul 2013

The Australian Greens have launched a new plan to give refugees a safer pathway to protection.

The plan includes increasing the government's humanitarian intake to 30,000 a year, providing an extra $70 million per annum in emergency funding to help fast track the processing of refugee claims in Indonesia and shutting down all detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

It comes on top of a Galaxy poll, commissioned by the Australian Greens, which shows that 48 per cent of Australians don't trust Labor or the Coalition to care for refugees ahead of political interests, while 20 per cent remain undecided.

"The majority of Australians recognise that Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott cannot be trusted to care for refugees," Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"They are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can adopt the cruellest approach to refugees, including dumping them on our poorest neighbours.

"As John Pilger said in The Guardian, the election campaign in Australia is being fought with the lives of men, women and children. This is a disgrace.

"Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have shamed Australia both at home and abroad by turning their backs on care for refugees.

"The Greens are the only political party who are standing up and saying there is a better way."

The Australian Greens plan includes:

  • Increasing Australia's humanitarian intake to 30,000 - within that, resettling an emergency intake of 10,000 UNHCR assessed refugees to Australia from our region to reduce the backlog. Giving refugees a ‘regular' path to a safer life, including resettling at least 3,800 extra directly from our immediate region as recommended by the Houston Panel.
  • Providing an extra $70 million per year in emergency funding to help fast track processing of refugee claims in Indonesia, providing shelter and welfare services to refugees while they are waiting for assessment and resettlement, and boosting the capacity of the UNHCR in Indonesia and Malaysia to speed up assessment and resettlement.
  • Shutting down all detention camps in Nauru and PNG, with Australia to assess the claims of people who arrive by boat.

"These policies could be implemented now and they could start saving lives immediately," the Greens' spokesperson for immigration, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"The Greens are standing up for vulnerable refugees in our region and for the Australian ideal that everyone deserves a fair go.

"The Greens' approach is more humane and it is also the only proven way that Australia has saved lives at sea in the past.

"Malcolm Fraser's strong political leadership following the Vietnam War saw untold numbers of lives saved through a humanitarian program that many Australians are still proud of to this very day.

"Rather than competing with each other to see who can be the cruellest to people who deserve our protection, Australia's politicians must lead the way in a strong, genuine, regional approach."

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