The tenor of debate surrounding refugee policy has become so toxic and so negative that it is trashing the very values of a fair go that Australians hold dear, the Greens said today.
“I moved a motion in the Senate today to urge MPs not to incorrectly use the term ‘illegal’ when referring to people who are seeking asylum in Australia and I was heartened to see that it was upheld,” the Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said after the vote.
“We know we have to lift the tone of this debate and this small step, recognising that it is perfectly legal to arrive in Australia in order to seek asylum, will go a little way to restoring some dignity and accuracy to the immigration discussion and this must start with MPs recognising the legal right people have to claim asylum.
“We currently have a situation where both parties are looking to reintroduce such toxic, punitive policies that internal groups and various backbenchers are threatening to stage a revolt.
“This is a race to the bottom where no one wins.
“We have already seen that deterrence measures, and TPVs specifically, do not work and we need to have a mature and considered discussion about how we can help people who are seeking asylum in Australia.
“I have genuine concerns for the people who are being forcibly returned to Sri Lanka, many of whom haven’t even had their claims for asylum assessed after being screened out.
“They are being used as pawns in the old parties’ ugly political fight and their lives are being risked in exchange for sound bites.”
Media Contact: Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 604 760
I move that –
1. The Senate notes:
a. that it is not illegal to arrive in Australia to seek asylum; and
b. previous attempts by the Australian Greens to have the use of the term ‘illegal’ in reference to asylum seekers ruled as out of order in Senate debate.
2. Calls on parliamentarians to refrain from using the misleading and inaccurate term illegal when referring to asylum seekers.