Turning back the boats: Indonesia benefits

Open letter to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott MP, Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison MP, Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor MP, by Andrew L. Urban

June 6, 2013

Indonesia stands to benefit as much as does Australia – as do asylum seekers avoiding expensive and life risking journeys – from refugee boats being turned back. After the first few, the upstream effect will be to constrict the flow of refugees into Indonesia on their way to Australia – the cost at the risk of being turned back becomes unacceptable. Asylum seekers streaming into Indonesia are hoping for a quick transfer to Australia (bypassing other channels) and would be most unlikely to keep streaming into Indonesia if their real prospects were reduced to staying there indefinitely. Indonesia doesn’t want this traffic but is under-resourced to stop it. The many thousands of refugees landing in Australia encourages the flow. Australia would be doing Indonesia a big favour as soon as we started to tow refugee boats back.
This obvious consequence of the boat-turning policy has never been publicly canvassed (or with Indonesia?), yet it is central to the success of the strategy in every respect, especially in tandem with other measures:
*Well resourced refugee assessment centres tasked with efficient processing are operated jointly – on Indonesian soil – with substantial Australian involvement (and financial support);

*Extensive medical facilities and support systems are established to ensure safety, health, human rights, etc;

*UN HCR or equivalent organisation presence and oversight is established;

*Refugees with valid identification papers are given priority assessments;

*Negotiations within – and outside – this region are urgently established to reach agreement on distribution of cleared refugees throughout these countries – subject to reasonable family reunion guidelines;

*Applicants found to be fraudulent or potential security threats are immediately repatriated;

*Refugee intake levels are monitord quarterly and revised as appropriate to ensure Australia continues to take its fair share
A controlled refugee program is essential for the security of nations and the welfare of genuine refugees.

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