Greens pledge to increase refugee intake


from ABC news, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/09/2949469.htm

The Greens have released their election policy on refugees which provides for an increase in the annual refugee intake to 20,000.

The Green would also end off-shore processing and ensure no children were held in detention.

They say Australia’s refugee intake has dropped to 6.6 per cent of total migration, the lowest in 35 years.

Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, says asylum seekers have little option but to travel by boat.

"We know that numbers of people who are seeking rides on boats from people smugglers from Indonesia and Malaysia are coming because they’ve already been granted refugee status by the UNHCR, and have no other pathway to actually seek freedom because Australia is not resettling enough of these people," she said.

The Greens want to close the Christmas Island detention centre and instead establish community reception centres in mainland cities to conduct health and security checks on asylum seekers.

Senator Hanson-Young says their policy is practical and humane.

"What a sad time it is that …. the notion and true values of a fair go, looking after the little guy, ensuring that we treat our fellow human beings with compassion has all been thrown out the window, because the major parties are playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people."

She says Julia Gillard’s credibility has been damaged by her handling of asylum seeker policy.

"This is a Prime Minister, who despite the needs and desires within the community for a humane approach to asylum seekers, is backing the Howard plan," she said.

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