Let’s be frank – Martin Bullock Lawyers opposes immigration detention, both onshore and offshore.
The reality is that it is an inhumane and expensive position to hold. It is 56 times cheaper to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees in the community, as opposed to offshore processing. The figures are stark.
We also understand that Australia needs to protect its borders. To that end, towbacks work. Regional processing works. The number of deaths at sea while coming to Australia have been reduced dramatically.
This does not mean, however, that the overall deaths have ceased. The reality is that people fleeing the mouth of the shark in other countries, fleeing persecution, will die if they stay where they are and will potentially die if they flee. The only difference is that they won’t die on the waters coming to Australia.
It is a complex problem not helped by simplistic solutions such as “stopping the boats”. There are so many countries which house millions more refugees than Australia does. It is time for us to step up to the plate and house our fair share.
Long-term solutions involve international agreements, working with the United Nations refugee programs, no longer bombing other countries, setting up regional processing centres in Malaysia and Indonesia, reducing population growth through education and access to safe contraception, educating women in particular, and reducing climate change. If you think there are too many refugees now, there will be millions if not billions more if our planet continues to warm.
For a long time we have had global financial markets and global labour markets, where cheap goods are produced overseas and shipped around the world. Well, there is now a global human movement market. Those who can afford it and who have access to embassies, consulates, etc., can apply for immigration. Those who cannot afford it and who don’t have access (indeed they may be persecuted, tortured or killed if they seek access) are forced onto the black market.
The UNSW Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law recently published a factsheet which examines the cost of immigration detention and has indicated some of the possible solutions. We urge you to read it.
We can do better. We can save millions of lives. We can demonstrate our capacity for compassion and tolerance.