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Analysis and Comment (194)

Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. AAP/Ava Benny-Morrison

From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded

The Abbott government has celebrated the 100th day without any asylum seeker boats reaching Australian territory. This is the result of policies that favour the protection of borders rather than of people…
How will Australia respond to so-called ‘climate refugees’? How will Australia respond to so-called ‘climate refugees’? AAP Image/Scott Fisher

Climate change and security: a wake-up call for Australia

The most recent IPCC report included a chapter on security – the first time this has happened. The report pointed to a range of security threats associated with climate change, including ill-health, food…
The question of how we treat innocent people who seek our protection from persecution is ultimately a moral one. The question of how we treat innocent people who seek our protection from persecution is ultimately a moral one. AAP/CNN

How we treat the vulnerable is a moral test beyond politics

I was recently invited to give a talk at a private club in a Melbourne suburb. A colleague has been a member for some years and arranged an invitation for me to speak at one of its regular dinners. Asked…
Interpol says one billion passengers travel without proper identity checks. Interpol says one billion passengers travel without proper identity checks. EPA/Barbara Walton

Flight MH370 and the desperate demand for false passports

It has emerged that two of the passengers on the missing flight MH370 were travelling on stolen passports. Initially this was thought to suggest that terrorism might be involved in the disappearance, but…
The Biennale’s severing of ties with Transfield won’t change anything for those suffering on Manus Island right now. But gestures matter. The Biennale’s severing of ties with Transfield won’t change anything for those suffering on Manus Island right now. But gestures matter. Department of Immigration and Citizenship/AAP

The Biennale, Transfield, and the value of boycott

In July 1846, the American writer Henry David Thoreau went to prison for refusing to pay his poll tax. He couldn’t abide the thought that his money would be used, however indirectly, to perpetuate the…
It is infantile to pick on one holding company while ignoring the central role of the Australian government. It is infantile to pick on one holding company while ignoring the central role of the Australian government. Eoin Blackwell/AAP Image

Artists' victory over Transfield misses the bigger picture

The Biennale of Sydney, which begins on March 21, has announced it will sever ties with its founding partner Transfield, following weeks of pressure from artists angered by the company’s links to Australia’s…
There’s a worldwide push to outsource activities previously left to the state. There’s a worldwide push to outsource activities previously left to the state. DIBP Images/Flickr

Manus Island takes Australia to the edge of outsourcing

The awarding of a A$1.22 billion contract to Transfield Services to run the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres is yet another example of a government handing over responsibility to other parties…
When asylum seekers are handed over to PNG’s Manus Island, Australia cannot ‘contract out’ its international legal responsibilities with them. When asylum seekers are handed over to PNG’s Manus Island, Australia cannot ‘contract out’ its international legal responsibilities with them. AAP/Department of Immigration

Manus Island: the end does not justify the means

The Australian government cannot duck and weave and imply that events on Manus Island involving asylum seekers were lawless acts over which it had no control. A policy aimed at “stopping the boats” does…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked the Cambodian government if it would resettle some of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked the Cambodian government if it would resettle some of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. EPA/Mak Remissa

Why resettling asylum seekers in Cambodia is fraught with risk

Amid the ongoing bad news about Manus Island has come the revelation that the Australian government has approached Cambodia with a view to resettling some asylum seekers in the impoverished nation. So…
The Immigration Department, which erects shadecloth around its detention centres to give asylum seekers ‘privacy’, has potentially put 10,000 people at risk by mistakenly releasing detailed identifying information about them. The Immigration Department, which erects shadecloth around its detention centres to give asylum seekers ‘privacy’, has potentially put 10,000 people at risk by mistakenly releasing detailed identifying information about them. AAP/Mick Tsikas

National failure to take privacy seriously snares asylum seekers

Another day, another data breach. The response to that breach tells us something about privacy law, the media and bureaucracies. On Wednesday, The Guardian revealed that the Department of Immigration and…
The decision to investigate the Australian navy’s actions in towing back asylum boats could have been an opportunity for greater transparency. The decision to investigate the Australian navy’s actions in towing back asylum boats could have been an opportunity for greater transparency. AAP/Scott Fisher

Indonesia incursion report provides more questions than answers on turn-backs

The release on Wednesday of the review into the circumstances of how and why the Australian navy repeatedly entered Indonesian waters might have been expected finally to reveal information about Australia’s…
Refugee protection should go beyond a legal obligation to asylum seekers and refugees. Refugee protection should go beyond a legal obligation to asylum seekers and refugees. AAP/DIAC

Manus riots illustrate a failure of Australia’s refugee protection

Defining “success” in refugee protection can be a tricky proposition. It could be a reduction in the number of people displaced worldwide, places made available for refugee resettlement or the number of…
http://www.flickr.com/photos/national_museum_of_australia/5056220012/

Racism of rigid legalism greets asylum seekers and their kind

We rightly celebrate living in a society where law and order prevail. Being able to follow established rules allows for the smooth operation of the many necessary transactions of everyday life. Yet it…
The Australian Government has sought to use comics to deter would-be asylum seekers from boarding boats to Australia. The Australian Government has sought to use comics to deter would-be asylum seekers from boarding boats to Australia. DIBP

The medium and the message: comics about asylum seekers

This week, two very different Australian comics about asylum seekers have received widespread attention. The first is At work inside our detention centres: A guard’s story by Melbourne comics artist Sam…
The government is using a graphic novel depicting an asylum seeker’s failed journey to Australia as its latest method of deterrence against boat arrivals. The government is using a graphic novel depicting an asylum seeker’s failed journey to Australia as its latest method of deterrence against boat arrivals. DIBP

Graphic novel versus Taliban: an asylum seeker deterrent?

The immigration department has added new contemporary imagery to the growing list of iconic works that surround the vexed issue of asylum seekers. Most Australians can already vividly recall media of the…
Australians have become very aware of the negative cultural tendencies of the ADF. Australians have become very aware of the negative cultural tendencies of the ADF. AAP/Scott Fisher

With Navy’s record of abuse, asylum boat claims can’t be ignored

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s three-word slogan “stop the boats” may be meeting its promise. Last Friday, Abbott was “very pleased” to point out that it was the “50th day without an illegal boat arriving…
The government should have focused on a proper investigation into allegations that asylum seekers' hands were deliberately burned by the Navy. The government should have focused on a proper investigation into allegations that asylum seekers' hands were deliberately burned by the Navy. ABC

Navy burns: the government’s obligation to investigate

The Abbott government has reacted indignantly to allegations by Sudanese asylum seeker Yousif Ibrahim Fasher that asylum seekers were mistreated and had their hands deliberately burnt by Australian Navy…
Past failures cannot detract from the significance of documenting current abuses of children Past failures cannot detract from the significance of documenting current abuses of children Stephen Mitchell

Back to the future: revisiting the treatment of child asylum seekers

The 1,000-plus children currently detained in immigration detention facilities in Australia and Nauru are at risk of serious mental health and developmental problems. The Human Rights Commission this week…
The ABC has been insufficiently sceptical of video ‘evidence’ for allegations that the Australian Navy mistreated asylum seekers. The ABC has been insufficiently sceptical of video ‘evidence’ for allegations that the Australian Navy mistreated asylum seekers. ABC

ABC, forgetting lessons of 2001, pays for its lack of scepticism

The ABC’s handling of allegations that Australian Navy personnel deliberately injured asylum seekers has become nastily entangled with an array of complex issues. These include: the politics of ABC bias…
The Tampa showdown in 2001 prompted playwrights to tackle the topic of asylum seekers. The Tampa showdown in 2001 prompted playwrights to tackle the topic of asylum seekers. AAP Image/Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Refuge and refusal: why theatre about asylum seekers matters

When, some eight or nine years ago, I began researching the responses of Australian and refugee theatre makers, filmmakers and writers to asylum seeker debates it was very easy to share the hopes for political…
Australia has a duty to ensure asylum seekers who are facing trial after being sent to Nauru are not denied their rights to proper legal process. Australia has a duty to ensure asylum seekers who are facing trial after being sent to Nauru are not denied their rights to proper legal process. AAP

Australia has an obligation to support the rule of law in Nauru

Australia should respond to the extraordinary actions of the government of Nauru in deporting and terminating the employment of its only magistrate, Peter Law, and denying its Chief Justice, Geoffrey Eames…
Should Australia change tack on its relationship with Indonesia and start keeping the nation at ‘arm’s length’? Should Australia change tack on its relationship with Indonesia and start keeping the nation at ‘arm’s length’? EPA/Romeo Gacad

Fatal attraction: is our relationship with Indonesia worth the trouble?

The decision by the Australian government to turn asylum seeker boats back into Indonesia’s territorial waters and its ports was always a high-risk game. It is no surprise that it has ended in a serious…
Dutch and French Huguenot refugees were the targets of fear and restrictions in 16th-century England – not unlike those who seek asylum in Australia. Dutch and French Huguenot refugees were the targets of fear and restrictions in 16th-century England – not unlike those who seek asylum in Australia. AAP Image/Jon Faulkner

The asylum seekers who frightened Elizabethan England

Would you be pleased to find a nation of such barbarous temper that, breaking out in hideous violence, would not afford you an abode on earth … What would you think to be thus used? This is the strangers…
The navy is permitted to intercept vessels in Australian waters, but the high seas or Indonesian waters are a different matter, as are tow-backs to another country. The navy is permitted to intercept vessels in Australian waters, but the high seas or Indonesian waters are a different matter, as are tow-backs to another country. AAP/Scott Fisher

Explainer: the legal implications of ‘tow-backs

Australia has been engaging in “tow-backs” of asylum-seeker boats. This has involved intercepting boats carrying asylum seekers at sea, before they reach Australia, and forcing them to return to Indonesia…
For fleeing Sri Lankans who literally bear the scars of war that may be enough to attract brutal treatment as LTTE suspects when their boats are intercepted. For fleeing Sri Lankans who literally bear the scars of war that may be enough to attract brutal treatment as LTTE suspects when their boats are intercepted. AAP/CNN

Australia dangerously close to the abuse of fleeing Sri Lankans

I was the only lady in the group that was caught by CID [Criminal Investigation Department]. CID beat the men but to me they just said bad words. CID took us to their office – 16 people – and the men were…
Called to account: G4S and Serco executives appear at the Public Accounts Select Committee last year. Called to account: G4S and Serco executives appear at the Public Accounts Select Committee last year. PA Wire

G4S and Serco deserve censure for treatment of asylum seekers

On Friday, the National Audit Office released a report detailing its investigation into the COMPASS housing project, a series of contracts between the Home Office and three service providers – G4S, Serco…
Hiding the government’s border control policy behind the word ‘operational’ makes the military their political pawns. Hiding the government’s border control policy behind the word ‘operational’ makes the military their political pawns. AAP/Scott Fisher

Operation Sovereign Borders: dignified silence or diminishing democracy?

Recent reports that the Australian Navy has turned back two asylum seeker boats to Indonesian waters remain shrouded under a veil of secrecy. Australia remains subject to downgraded levels of co-operation…
Round-the-clock news coverage of every boat arrival helps create the perception Australia is facing a crisis. Round-the-clock news coverage of every boat arrival helps create the perception Australia is facing a crisis. AAP/Jon Faulkner

Seeing refugee flows in a broader context points to a better way

Before 9/11 and the “Tampa” episode in 2001, Australia played a thoroughly constructive and decent role in refugee resettlement following World War Two and the Vietnam War. This happened despite a cultural…
Temporary protection visas punish asylum seekers for arriving in Australia without a visa. Temporary protection visas punish asylum seekers for arriving in Australia without a visa. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Traumatising and inhumane: why TPVs have to go

People smuggling has cost the lives of at least 1,199 people between August 2008 and November 2013. Those fortunate enough to survive these tragedies at sea face enduring trauma: mandatory detention, loss…
The UN has criticised Australia’s housing and transfer of asylum seeker children in offshore processing facilities on Manus Island and Nauru. The UN has criticised Australia’s housing and transfer of asylum seeker children in offshore processing facilities on Manus Island and Nauru. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Offshore processing centres are no place for asylum seeker children

Recent reports that three asylum seeker children have been transferred from Nauru back to Australia because of concerns about their health raises a more fundamental question that lies at the heart of Australia’s…
Thousands of people are in domestic servitude in the UK, and many are migrants. Thousands of people are in domestic servitude in the UK, and many are migrants. Photographer: Evil Erin

To end domestic servitude, first fix immigration policy

Details are still emerging in the case of three women who claim to have been held as slaves for three decades in a suburban house in London. The Metropolitan police have stated that a 69-year-old Malaysian…
It’s uncertain what effect Indonesia’s downgrading of diplomatic and military relations will have on Australia’s asylum seeker policies. It’s uncertain what effect Indonesia’s downgrading of diplomatic and military relations will have on Australia’s asylum seeker policies. EPA/Tubagus

Stopping people smuggling requires more than just Indonesia’s help

Australian-Indonesian military relations have been downgraded in recent days following Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to reduce military co-operation until he receives an explanation…
Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? AAP Image/Courtesy; SBS Dateline, Supplied by Hussein Khoder

Migration is a solution to climate change, not a threat to security

How to deal with the impact of climate change is front and centre at international climate talks in Warsaw, with a fund for “losses and damages” caused by climate change to developing nations on the table…
The ABC’s Four Corners program investigated the people smugglers allegedly behind this asylum seeker boat, which sank off the coast of Java in September this year. The ABC’s Four Corners program investigated the people smugglers allegedly behind this asylum seeker boat, which sank off the coast of Java in September this year. AAP

Four Corners: human smuggling and the spectacle of suffering

Last night, the ABC’s Four Corners program fed us with yet another 50 minutes worth of emotional, heartbreaking and harrowing testimonies of traumatised survivors of yet another human smuggling tragedy…
Swapping asylum seekers for refugees is unlikely to be the panacea that the federal government hopes it will be. Swapping asylum seekers for refugees is unlikely to be the panacea that the federal government hopes it will be. AAP

Outsourcing refugee policy: the Australia-Indonesia ‘people swap’

For those of us with a long enough memory of asylum politics, discussion this week of a “people swap” deal between Indonesia and Australia harks back to earlier plans by the then-Labor government to exchange…
What are Australia’s legal and moral responsibilities under the relevant conventions and the law of the sea to rescue and ‘turn back’ asylum seeker boats? What are Australia’s legal and moral responsibilities under the relevant conventions and the law of the sea to rescue and ‘turn back’ asylum seeker boats? AAP

Explainer: the law of the sea and asylum seekers

Prime minister Tony Abbott said on Monday he expects Jakarta to take responsibility for the asylum seekers that Australian authorities rescue in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone. He claims this is the…
Who holds the upper hand in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? The power may be shifting Indonesia’s way if recent events are anything to go by. Who holds the upper hand in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? The power may be shifting Indonesia’s way if recent events are anything to go by. EPA/Romeo Gacao

Stretching the friendship: Australia, Indonesia and the ‘good friend’ narrative

How far can friendships stretch? Two months ago, the rhetoric of the Indonesian and Australian governments was centred on the countries being good friends. Until last week, from the Indonesian perspective…
One is a national emergency, one isn’t. One is a national emergency, one isn’t. AAP Image/Courtesy; SBS Dateline, Supplied by Hussein Khoder & AAP Image/Dan Peled

Why ‘the boats’ are a national emergency and climate change isn’t

As anyone who has seen immigration minister Scott Morrison’s recent military-style press conferences knows, the Coalition has declared asylum seeker boats arriving in Australia are a “national emergency…
Indonesia foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has criticised Australia over allegations of spying, but will it actually adversely reflect our relationship? Indonesia foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has criticised Australia over allegations of spying, but will it actually adversely reflect our relationship? EPA/Bagus Indahono

Spying ‘scandal’: another challenge to the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

For anyone interested in Australia-Indonesia relations, nothing so characterises the phenomenon as a car on a roller-coaster. Any rise is followed inevitably by a fall. The ride is never boring, and in…
We cannot profess to be taking our international protection obligations seriously until enhanced screening of asylum seekers arriving by boat is discontinued. We cannot profess to be taking our international protection obligations seriously until enhanced screening of asylum seekers arriving by boat is discontinued. EPA/Stringer

Sri Lankan boat arrivals: enhanced screening, diminished protection

Since October 27 last year, more than 1,070 Sri Lankan boat arrivals have been returned to their home country. In the most recent repatriation last week, 73 of 79 Sri Lankans who arrived in Australia in…
Lebanon is bearing the brunt of the protracted refugee crisis that has emerged as a result of the Syrian civil war. Lebanon is bearing the brunt of the protracted refugee crisis that has emerged as a result of the Syrian civil war. EPA/Wael Hamzeh

Mutual misery: the Syrian refugee crisis, Lebanon and Australia

The recent sinking of a refugee boat bound for Australia off Java, which had 68 Lebanese on board, highlights the complexity, magnitude and reach of the Syrian civil war. The effect of the ongoing war…
Backpackers make up a hidden stream of labour in Australia. But what makes a ‘good’ migrant for policy-makers, and why is there a distinction? Backpackers make up a hidden stream of labour in Australia. But what makes a ‘good’ migrant for policy-makers, and why is there a distinction? Siim Teller

‘Good’ migrants and ‘bad’ migrants: the Coalition’s policy paradox

In his short period in office so far, prime minister Tony Abbott has been taken to task on two issues with important neighbours: asylum seeker boats arriving from Indonesia, and the rights of New Zealanders…
It is difficult to convey complex and nuanced research findings around immigration and social cohesion when the media’s interest is in polarisation and headlines. It is difficult to convey complex and nuanced research findings around immigration and social cohesion when the media’s interest is in polarisation and headlines. AAP/Dan Peled

Tracking social cohesion and cultural diversity in the media

If you were to believe some reports in the mainstream media earlier this week, Australians are now more racist, alarmed by immigration and much more negative about asylum seekers arriving by boat. However…
Desperate conditions: Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Desperate conditions: Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Muhammed Muheisen/AP

Brutal, expensive, futile - the truth about deporting asylum seekers

Six young men arrived at Kabul Airport on Tuesday, following deportation from Norway. Norway deports about this number of rejected asylum seekers every week, but it is not alone – Belgium, Germany and…
The Abbott government has reduced the information flow on asylum seeker arrivals to a weekly briefing. How has the mainstream media responded? The Abbott government has reduced the information flow on asylum seeker arrivals to a weekly briefing. How has the mainstream media responded? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

A deafening silence: the media’s response to asylum secrecy

It is remarkable how complacent Australia’s media has been in response to the federal government’s brazenly cynical suppression of information about asylum seeker boat arrivals. There were a few indignant…
Scott Morrison has defended his directive for asylum seekers to be called ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. Scott Morrison has defended his directive for asylum seekers to be called ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Calling a boat person a spade: Australia’s asylum seeker rhetoric

Immigration minister Scott Morrison is new to government, but he is a seasoned campaigner on Australia’s response to boat people. He knows how to get attention on this issue and he knows how to use the…
We know young refugees have an increased risk of depression, but this is only part of the story. We know young refugees have an increased risk of depression, but this is only part of the story. Image from shutterstock.com

Getting the facts about refugee and migrant mental health in Australia

Refugees and asylum seekers living in Australia are particularly vulnerable to self-harm and suicidal behaviours, but aren’t getting the specialised mental health care they need, according to a Spotlight…
Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? EPA/Ettore Ferrari

The Lampedusa asylum tragedy and the lessons for Australia

The recent event of yet another boat sinking off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy resulted in the death of hundreds of migrants with still more unaccounted for. Despite the tyranny of distance, the incident…
Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip to Indonesia yielded some return, but time will tell if his ‘Jakarta focus’ is a success. Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip to Indonesia yielded some return, but time will tell if his ‘Jakarta focus’ is a success. EPA/Adi Weda

Was Tony Abbott’s Jakarta trip a success? We’ll see

Evaluating the success of Tony Abbott’s first prime ministerial visit to Indonesia depends, of course, on what you saw as its objectives. Those with high hopes – that it would mark a breakthrough in discussions…
Nationalistic politicking on both sides has set the scene for prime minister Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip abroad - to Indonesia. Nationalistic politicking on both sides has set the scene for prime minister Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip abroad - to Indonesia. EPA/Adi Weda

The politics of brinksmanship: Abbott heads to Indonesia

Running foreign policy on domestic agendas is always risky business. In the lead-up to the Australian federal election, the two main political parties locked themselves into a competition over who had…
There are operational naval reasons behind Scott Morrison’s decision to put asylum seeker arrivals and ‘turn backs’ behind a shroud of secrecy. There are operational naval reasons behind Scott Morrison’s decision to put asylum seeker arrivals and ‘turn backs’ behind a shroud of secrecy. AAP/Scott Fisher

Should operations to turn the boats around be kept secret?

Acting opposition leader Chris Bowen said in a doorstop interview earlier this week that: There is absolutely no operational reason for the new minister of immigration not to be up front with the Australian…
The ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia caused a major rift in relations. Can new governments in both nations repair the damage? The ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia caused a major rift in relations. Can new governments in both nations repair the damage? AAP/Animals Australia

Beef, boats and elections: what’s in store for the Australia-Indonesia relationship

Somehow, the debate on Indonesia-Australia relations has got stuck on Bali, beef and boats. While there is no point pretending that either beef or boats are about to disappear as issues any time soon…
Both sides of politics are in a race to the bottom in the mistreatment of asylum seekers. Both sides of politics are in a race to the bottom in the mistreatment of asylum seekers. EPA/STR

Julian Burnside: Alienation to alien nation

I had a conversation with Tim Costello some years ago which significantly changed my way of seeing things. He told me of a time when he was running the Collins St Baptist Church. A guy who had been sleeping…
Tony Abbott has said he wants to focus his foreign policy objectives in ‘Jakarta, not Geneva’. But how successful will he be? Tony Abbott has said he wants to focus his foreign policy objectives in ‘Jakarta, not Geneva’. But how successful will he be? EPA/Adi Weda

All politics is domestic: the Indonesian response to the federal election

Australia’s recent federal election was – as usual – won and lost primarily on domestic policy issues. Unlike his predecessor, new prime minister Tony Abbott made no claims to great expertise in foreign…
Indonesian military officers have been caught up in people smuggling rings, but what actually happens to the kingpins of these operations? Indonesian military officers have been caught up in people smuggling rings, but what actually happens to the kingpins of these operations? AAP/Karlis Salna

Prosecuting people smugglers in Indonesia

Against widely held opinion in Australia that Indonesia is not doing anything to stop people smugglers from shipping asylum seekers to Australia, Indonesia has, in fact, stepped up its activities to curb…
Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? AAP/Alan Porritt

Virtue and vexation: the policy vacuum in the 2013 election

I have been around for a long time and involved in some terrible campaigns, but the policy vacuum in 2013 was the worst I can recall. There was no serious debate on issues, whether simple or complex, and…
Will the vexed asylum seeker issue continue to dominate Australian politics under an Abbott government? Will the vexed asylum seeker issue continue to dominate Australian politics under an Abbott government? AAP/Mark Cairn

Where to now for asylum seeker policy under Tony Abbott?

Asylum seeker policy experienced a rush of activity in the lead-up to the election. Behind the Abbott government’s bold promise to “stop the boats” in its first term of government is a series of specific…
The intractable asylum seeker issue has dominated Australian politics like no other recently. Where will it play most in the coming election? The intractable asylum seeker issue has dominated Australian politics like no other recently. Where will it play most in the coming election? AAP/Paul Miller

Stop the votes: the seats where the asylum issue resonates most

The vexed issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat on Australian shores has dominated our political psyche for over a decade. Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement shortly after returning to office…
Liberal candidate for Greenway Jaymes Diaz has made international headlines for his gaffe-prone campaign - but he may yet wrest the seat from Labor. Liberal candidate for Greenway Jaymes Diaz has made international headlines for his gaffe-prone campaign - but he may yet wrest the seat from Labor. Channel 10

Greenway, or the place which Jaymes Diaz is trying to represent

The ultra-marginal seat of Greenway in Sydney’s western suburbs has recently drawn international scrutiny after the embarrassing media performance of the Liberal candidate Jaymes Diaz, who faltered when…
Who gets the better deal – asylum seekers or pensioners? Who gets the better deal – asylum seekers or pensioners?

FactCheck: are newly-arrived asylum seekers paid more than pensioners?

“Our senior citizens and our disability pensioners are paid less than newly arrived asylum seekers.” - Clive Palmer, founder of the Palmer United Party, National Press Club, 26 August. Clive Palmer’s claim…
The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. AAP/Steve Lillebuen

Back to the future on temporary protection visas

For me, the TPV is a prison. Our life is without hope, or purpose. The simplest thing that a person wants in his life is hope. Without hope, life is meaningless. - Iraqi temporary protection visa holder…
Both major political parties are so intent on ‘stopping the boats’ that they have lost sight of their obligations to protect people. Both major political parties are so intent on ‘stopping the boats’ that they have lost sight of their obligations to protect people. ROSSBACH/KREPP/AAP IMAGE

Harming the health of refugees for the sake of stopping boats

Like many other Australians, I am alarmed by the hardening policy positions on asylum seekers of both major political parties. And today, the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP), of which I am…
A man in the second group of asylum seekers transferred to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island calls out to journalists, 2 August 2013. A man in the second group of asylum seekers transferred to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island calls out to journalists, 2 August 2013.

FactCheck: are Australia’s refugee acceptance rates high compared with other nations?

“We want to end the tick and flick approach of this [Labor] government that has seen nine out of 10 people found to be refugees when that doesn’t match what we are seeing in other places around the world…
Zero tolerance leads to extreme solutions. Zero tolerance leads to extreme solutions. Image from shutterstock.com

Groundhog day: why the asylum problem is like the drug problem

WEEKEND READ: What does Australia’s handling of asylum seekers have in common with our approach to illicit drugs? Quite a lot, writes Desmond Manderson. In the following 10,000 word essay, he argues we…
The regional refugee compact would focus the attention away from border protection and towards refugee needs and service provision. The regional refugee compact would focus the attention away from border protection and towards refugee needs and service provision. Image from shutterstock.com

Asylum Solutions: we need a regional refugee compact

The Australia-PNG regional resettlement arrangement and the “no advantage” policy are based on the incorrect assumption that asylum seekers come to Australia because it’s an “easy” entry point into the…
The suffering of the Iranian people is a moral and an economic issue that Australia can help to solve. The suffering of the Iranian people is a moral and an economic issue that Australia can help to solve. Image from shutterstock.com

Signs of hope in Iran, but can Australia be part of the solution?

Over recent months, Iran has become the largest source of asylum seekers arriving in Australia, with more than 5,000 having arrived this year, amounting to about one-third of the total. While the debate…
It’s not hard to see that caging people indefinitely behind razor wire does considerable harm. It’s not hard to see that caging people indefinitely behind razor wire does considerable harm. AAP

Before getting practical on asylum policy, let’s change our discourse

It was a foolish moment when prime minister Bob Hawke promised that by 1990 no child in Australia would be living in poverty. After all, what are the solutions to child poverty, to crime, to educational…
Australia’s population is forecast to reach 35 million by 2050, meaning Australia Day citizenship celebrations could get even bigger. What is the current ‘face’ of our nation? Australia’s population is forecast to reach 35 million by 2050, meaning Australia Day citizenship celebrations could get even bigger. What is the current ‘face’ of our nation? AAP/Lucas Coch

Election 2013 Issues: what do we look like?

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the…
Each adult Australian citizen would have the right to sponsor one person selected from the register every five years. Each adult Australian citizen would have the right to sponsor one person selected from the register every five years. DFID UK Department for International Development

Asylum Solutions: we need a sponsorship register for refugees

The people of Armidale, a NSW country town which benefits from the cosmopolitanism associated with the presence of the University of New England, are tolerant and open-hearted. They might well appear as…
The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. AAP/Lukas Coch

Redefining the lie: politics and porkies

Lie (v.) (1) To make a politically unpopular statement; (2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed…
Asylum seekers are transferred to Manus Island. Is there a different way of dealing with people who arrive in Australia seeking refuge? Asylum seekers are transferred to Manus Island. Is there a different way of dealing with people who arrive in Australia seeking refuge? AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Asylum Solutions: reinstating the right to seek asylum

Have you ever wondered why asylum seekers would choose to spend $5000 for passage on an overcrowded, dangerous, and potentially fruitless boat journey from Indonesia rather than spend it on a first class…
Rather than mandatory detention of asylum seekers, Australia could save money by allowing more in and asking them to fill jobs in Australia that need doing. Rather than mandatory detention of asylum seekers, Australia could save money by allowing more in and asking them to fill jobs in Australia that need doing. AAP/DIAC

Asylum Solutions: saving money with a more humane response

The major political parties in Australia are engaged in a competition to outdo each other in their promises to mistreat boat people. The theory is that this will deter others from seeking protection here…
Relations between Australia and Indonesia may become strained as allegations of spying and failure to follow protocol on the Australian side are released. Relations between Australia and Indonesia may become strained as allegations of spying and failure to follow protocol on the Australian side are released. EPA/Mark Irham

Spies, Zionist agents and the ‘PNG solution’: Australia through Indonesian eyes

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd’s so-called “PNG solution” to the asylum seeker issue has attracted much comment from within both Australia and Papua New Guinea. It has also stirred the pot in Indonesia…
As long as push factors such as ongoing civil war in Syria continue, asylum seeker issues will plague Australian politics. As long as push factors such as ongoing civil war in Syria continue, asylum seeker issues will plague Australian politics. EPA / STR

Asylum Solutions: temporary visas with a difference

Anyone who wants to design a solution to the asylum seeker dilemma needs to start by understanding it’s not the product of a single phenomenon: there are five issues, all connected. To create a workable…
Asylum seeker children who have tried to get to Australia by boat since the PNG agreement was announced will be sent to Manus Island. Asylum seeker children who have tried to get to Australia by boat since the PNG agreement was announced will be sent to Manus Island.

FactCheck: can children under seven be sent to Manus Island?

“You cannot send children aged under seven to Manus Island because of the issues of inoculation - you can’t do it.” - Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, press conference, 21 July. Scott Morrison…
People die trying to come to Australia to join our society. Have we lost sight of what we value most? People die trying to come to Australia to join our society. Have we lost sight of what we value most? AAP/Dan Peled

Barry Jones: asylum is the greatest moral challenge of our time

We are never completely contemporaneous with our present. History advances in disguise; it appears on stage wearing the mask of the preceding scene, and we tend to lose the meaning of the play. Each time…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. AAP/Dan Peled

Tough guys: Operation Sovereign Borders vs the PNG Solution

Just when you thought being “tough on borders” couldn’t get any more serious, along comes the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders. It’s got all the right elements of a plan: it’s an operation (with…
Do people smugglers actually have a business model that can be broken? Do people smugglers actually have a business model that can be broken? EPA/Made Nagi

The myth of the people smugglers' ‘business model’

The people smugglers business model is phrase that has entered the Australian political lexicon if only through sheer repetition. It has barely left the lips of prime minister Kevin Rudd or immigration…
Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? AAP/Scott Fisher

Drowning mercy: why we fear the boats

There’s a Latin word: misericordia. It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair…
Chris Bowen and Kevin Rudd are facing the challenge of paying for their new policies while minimising political “nasties”. Chris Bowen and Kevin Rudd are facing the challenge of paying for their new policies while minimising political “nasties”. AAP/Lori Neilsen-Carr

Grattan on Friday: Boats done – the economy’s next on Rudd’s agenda

Now Kevin Rudd has ticked off emissions trading and unveiled his PNG solution on boat arrivals, he’s turning his full attention to trying to neutralise the “debt and deficit” issue. In other words, he’s…
The deal between Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (centre) and Kevin Rudd delivers a a package of much-needed assistance to the poor country. The deal between Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (centre) and Kevin Rudd delivers a a package of much-needed assistance to the poor country. OIN BLACKWELL/AAP

Colonialism, sovereignty and aid: what refugees mean for PNG

At first glance, the deal between prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill transferring all Australian-bound asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea appears to deliver many benefits to that small poor country…
Asylum seekers are often left traumatised by their journey. Will they be able to receive appropriate mental health treatment when processed and resettled in PNG? Asylum seekers are often left traumatised by their journey. Will they be able to receive appropriate mental health treatment when processed and resettled in PNG? EPA/Adrian Elang

Rudd’s PNG plan could worsen asylum seekers' mental health

It is currently unclear how Australia and Papua New Guinea will ensure a protective and supportive resettlement environment for refugees under the recently announced Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA…
Governments face many competing demands when trying to create practical, effective asylum seeker policy. Governments face many competing demands when trying to create practical, effective asylum seeker policy. EPA/Tubagus

Asylum seekers: effective policy is based on evidence, not emotion

Many of us want to believe that there is a just and moral solution to the asylum seekers issue. For two decades arguments based on a variety of interpretations of what justice and morality may involve…
Kevin Rudd’s asylum seeker policy will resettle refugees in PNG. So what will their life actually be like? Kevin Rudd’s asylum seeker policy will resettle refugees in PNG. So what will their life actually be like? AAP/George Curry

What life can a resettled refugee expect in PNG?

Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s plan to resettle asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea is already being compared to John Howard’s hard line on the Tampa, which won Howard the election in 2001. It might be good…
Can Rudd’s asylum seeker policy be considered a ‘success’ if it only speaks to Australian self-interest? Can Rudd’s asylum seeker policy be considered a ‘success’ if it only speaks to Australian self-interest? EPA/Tubagus

Defining ‘success’ in the asylum seeker debate

If prime minister Kevin Rudd’s recent decision to process and then resettle all onshore asylum seekers in PNG is to be considered in any way a “success”, then it raises the question of what constitutes…
Kevin Rudd could look to the processes in Europe for a properly regional solution to asylum seekers. Kevin Rudd could look to the processes in Europe for a properly regional solution to asylum seekers. EPA/Adrian Elang

What would a truly regional asylum arrangement look like?

The recently-signed deal between Australia and Papua New Guinea on refugees is being promoted by the Australian government as a “regional settlement arrangement”. But it is really? And how does it compare…
Asylum seekers coming by boat to Australia is on the increase but do they make up 20% of our migration program? Asylum seekers coming by boat to Australia is on the increase but do they make up 20% of our migration program?

FactCheck: are boat people now 20% of our immigration program?

“The numbers have spiked. Twenty per cent of Australia’s immigration program now comes to our shores courtesy of people smugglers… You’re dealing with a very different situation when you’ve got what could…
After years of grappling with asylum seeker policy, Kevin Rudd has announced that boat arrivals without visas will now be resettled in PNG. After years of grappling with asylum seeker policy, Kevin Rudd has announced that boat arrivals without visas will now be resettled in PNG. AAP/Dan Peled

Australia and asylum seekers: where do the Rudd reforms leave us?

Most Australians will judge Kevin Rudd’s newly announced plan to deny asylum seekers who arrive by boat the right to settle in Australia to be a success if it leads to a reduction in the number of boat…
Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. AAP/Dan Peled

Rudd’s PNG deal is a co-dependency, not a ‘regional solution’

The precise details of the refugee resettlement deal struck between Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and his Papua New Guinean counterpart Peter O'Neill are yet to be revealed. But what we do know…
A legal challenge may loom to the Australia-PNG regional resettlement arrangement for asylum seeker arrivals if it does not meet our international law obligations. A legal challenge may loom to the Australia-PNG regional resettlement arrangement for asylum seeker arrivals if it does not meet our international law obligations. AAP/Dan Peled

Rudd’s PNG plan unlikely to comply with international law

The new asylum seeker arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea is almost certain not to comply with Australia’s international law obligations. In favour of the Australian government’s legal position…
Kevin Rudd has moved to the right on asylum seeker policy, hoping to court voters. Kevin Rudd has moved to the right on asylum seeker policy, hoping to court voters. AAP/Dan Peled

Cost no object – Rudd just wants the asylum seekers in someone else’s backyard

Kevin Rudd has pulled out every available stop to persuade voters that he can stop the boats - not immediately, but eventually. The Australian government has spectacularly outsourced its asylum seeker…
Kevin Rudd has announced sweeping changes to asylum policy, headlined by refugees who arrive by boat will no longer be resettled in Australia. Kevin Rudd has announced sweeping changes to asylum policy, headlined by refugees who arrive by boat will no longer be resettled in Australia. AAP

No more asylum in Australia for those arriving by boat: Rudd

Asylum seekers who arrive in Australian waters by boat will no longer have the chance to be settled in Australia under new policies announced by prime minister Kevin Rudd. Instead, asylum seekers arriving…
What are the legal implications for proposals to ‘tow back’ and ‘push back’ asylum seeker boats by the Australian Navy? What are the legal implications for proposals to ‘tow back’ and ‘push back’ asylum seeker boats by the Australian Navy? AAP/Scott Fisher

Explainer: the legality of turning or towing back asylum boats

The Coalition promises it will “turn back” asylum seeker boats in Australian waters where it is safe to do so if it wins the next election. With Australian border patrols said to be at “breaking point…
Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. EPA/Tubagus

Explainer: Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention

Prime minister Kevin Rudd has indicated that he would like to revisit Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. We are yet to learn what this may mean…
Kevin Rudd’s flying visit to PNG to meet with his counterpart Peter O'Neill was more about Australia’s domestic than foreign policies. Kevin Rudd’s flying visit to PNG to meet with his counterpart Peter O'Neill was more about Australia’s domestic than foreign policies. AAP/Gary Ramage

Rudd in PNG: playing to the home crowd

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has just paid an official visit to our nearest neighbour and former colony, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Although Rudd explained his agenda as driven by the two countries…
The Coalition should heed the legal lessons of an attempt by Maltese authorities to ‘push back’ Somali asylum seekers. The Coalition should heed the legal lessons of an attempt by Maltese authorities to ‘push back’ Somali asylum seekers. EPA/Lino Arrigo Azzopardi

Malta’s ‘push back’ stand-off: what can Australia learn?

Malta has become the latest country to try to “push back” asylum seekers, implementing a policy similar to that being advocated by the Coalition as its “Real Solution” to the phenomenon of boats arriving…
Asylum seekers and West Papua will be high on the agenda for Kevin Rudd’s talks with his PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill. Asylum seekers and West Papua will be high on the agenda for Kevin Rudd’s talks with his PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill. AAP/Alan Porritt

Refugees and rebels set to dominate Rudd’s PNG visit

As Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd lands in Port Moresby to meet with his Papua New Guinean counterpart Peter O'Neill, several conundrums are set to tax his mind and diplomatic skills. Front and centre…
Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden continues his fight for asylum - a concept that is grounded in ancient history. Fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden continues his fight for asylum - a concept that is grounded in ancient history. EPA/Kay Nietfeld

Snowden, Assange and the ancient history of seeking asylum

As Julian Assange remains inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London and Edward Snowden, last thought to be Venezuela-bound, attempts to avoid capture by an enraged United States, the grant of asylum has…
Glasses, check. Passport, check. Cheque for £200? Glasses, check. Passport, check. Cheque for £200? Flickr/Justin Vidamo

NHS levy for health tourists - a good deal for migrants

Another argument has broken out between the government and doctors over a proposal to charge immigrants to use the NHS. The government claims a levy will make the NHS more fair and sustainable and stop…
Kevin Rudd’s visit to Indonesia may yet mark a high point between the two countries. Kevin Rudd’s visit to Indonesia may yet mark a high point between the two countries.

A new turn in the Australian-Indonesian relationship?

An Australian prime minister visiting Indonesia is nothing new, but Kevin Rudd’s current visit is generating more than the usual amount of attention, coinciding with the DFAT release of its Indonesia Country…
Australian PM Kevin Rudd and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will meet today to discuss the asylum seeker issue - what is the view from Indonesia? Australian PM Kevin Rudd and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will meet today to discuss the asylum seeker issue - what is the view from Indonesia? EPA/Bagus Indahono

View from Indonesia: how can Australia deal with asylum seekers?

Today’s Indonesia-Australia Leaders' Meeting - where Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd will meet with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - takes place against a backdrop of the asylum seeker…
The imagined threat. Edward Snowden’s asylum bid is pushing the parameters of geopolitical diplomacy and international law. The imagined threat. Edward Snowden’s asylum bid is pushing the parameters of geopolitical diplomacy and international law. See-ming Lee

Edward Snowden and the search for asylum

Throughout the morning of July 3, Australian news media were reporting that the aircraft carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales had been forced to make an unscheduled stopover in Vienna, en route from…
Australia can break the people smugglers' business model by changing its ‘prohibition regime’ policy approach. Australia can break the people smugglers' business model by changing its ‘prohibition regime’ policy approach. AAP

Can we break the people smugglers’ business model?

As prime minister Kevin Rudd prepares to visit Indonesia and meet with his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he should bear in mind that the asylum seeker problem plaguing the Australian…
Did Foreign minister Bob Carr’s controversial claim that the majority of asylum seekers coming to Australia are economic refugees go too far? Did Foreign minister Bob Carr’s controversial claim that the majority of asylum seekers coming to Australia are economic refugees go too far? APH

FactCheck: are asylum seekers really economic migrants?

“People are coming here, not now as a result of persecution, but because they’re economic refugees who have paid money to people smugglers.” - Foreign minister Bob Carr, Meet the Press, June 9. There is…
Just how much co-operation can Tony Abbott expect from Indonesia leaders on his plan to turn back asylum seeker boats? Just how much co-operation can Tony Abbott expect from Indonesia leaders on his plan to turn back asylum seeker boats? EPA/Adi Weda

Does Indonesia care about turning back the boats?

In the coming days, prime minister Kevin Rudd will visit Indonesia to discuss asylum seeker policy with Indonesian officials, including Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Rudd’s visit will…
New PM Kevin Rudd will meet with his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Indonesia this week - do we see Indonesia as equal partners in our relationship? New PM Kevin Rudd will meet with his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Indonesia this week - do we see Indonesia as equal partners in our relationship? AAP/Alan Porritt

Australia and Indonesia: a meeting of equals?

New prime minister Kevin Rudd will visit Indonesia later this week for the third Indonesia-Australia Leaders' Meeting. Rudd will seek to exchange military - and possibly developmental - aid for Indonesian…
The declining health levels of asylum seekers should spark the Australian government to take action. The declining health levels of asylum seekers should spark the Australian government to take action. EPA/Made Mahardika

Attention Australia: take charge of asylum health

Seventy asylum seekers have been moved from the Manus Island immigration detention facility to Christmas Island following a long overdue decision by the Gillard government. The decision to keep families…
From White Australia onwards, have the attitudes of Australian society and the government on migration and asylum really changed over time? From White Australia onwards, have the attitudes of Australian society and the government on migration and asylum really changed over time? EPA/Stringer

From White Australia to stopping the boats: attitudes to asylum seekers

For a nation largely comprised of “boat people”, asylum has generated the most debate, and at times hysteria, of all immigration matters in Australia. Is this due to what multiculturalism academic Ghassan…
The Coalition remain steadfastly in favour of an asylum seeker policy that seeks to turn back the boats, but is this really feasible? The Coalition remain steadfastly in favour of an asylum seeker policy that seeks to turn back the boats, but is this really feasible? AAP/Jon Faulkner

Towing back the boats: bad policy whatever way you look at it

There is not much bipartisanship in Australian federal politics these days, but the ALP and the Coalition are in agreement on one matter: the boats must be stopped. They just don’t agree on how to do it…
If we want to address the Sri Lankan asylum seeker in Australia, we need to invest in addressing problems at the source. If we want to address the Sri Lankan asylum seeker in Australia, we need to invest in addressing problems at the source. AAP Image/Ron D'Raine

From recrimination to reconciliation: the path to peace in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. After the end of a long civil war, the country has an historic opportunity to draw on its strengths and riches to create a unified, prosperous and just society. But it is…
Their civil war may have ended, but the number of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka are on the increase. Their civil war may have ended, but the number of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka are on the increase. EPA/Wisnu Adi

After the war: why Sri Lankan refugees continue to come to Australia

In the debate about Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Australia, one question seems to come up again and again. Why, when the bloody twenty-six-year conflict that caused so many to leave their homes has ended…
Another High Court challenge to the Gillard government’s indefinite detention of ‘legal black hole’ refugees has experts calling for alternatives. Another High Court challenge to the Gillard government’s indefinite detention of ‘legal black hole’ refugees has experts calling for alternatives. AAP/Jeremy Piper

As a High Court challenge looms, are there alternatives to Australia’s indefinite detention policy?

The Gillard government is facing another High Court challenge to its indefinite detention of the 55 refugees to have received adverse security assessments from ASIO. These continuing legal troubles, along…
Excising mainland Australia from the migration zone will drastically alter the legal landscape for asylum seekers. Excising mainland Australia from the migration zone will drastically alter the legal landscape for asylum seekers. AAP/Made Nagi

Out of sight, out of mind: excising Australia from the migration zone

The twists and turns of Australian immigration policy grew even more complicated yesterday with the passage of legislation in parliament to excise the mainland of Australia from the “migration zone”. The…
Unauthorised boat arrivals from Sri Lanka continue. Recent reports into widespread human rights abuses in Sri Lanka suggest the arrivals might be genuine refugees. Unauthorised boat arrivals from Sri Lanka continue. Recent reports into widespread human rights abuses in Sri Lanka suggest the arrivals might be genuine refugees. EPA/Stringer

The problems with recognising Sri Lankan boat arrivals as refugees

It is all pretty confusing. Are Sri Lankan boat arrivals – like the 66 who showed up in the port of Geraldton last month – actually refugees? Are they fleeing from a country where the police and the army…
Cameras were secretly taken in to detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru by the ABC to film the living conditions there. Cameras were secretly taken in to detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru by the ABC to film the living conditions there. ABCTV

What if it was our kids? Four Corners and asylum seekers

The federal government does not say how it chooses those it sends for offshore processing. It does not explain how it chooses children to go to Manus Island. Australian doctors have told the Department…
Asylum seeker detainees at an immigration facility in Broadmeadows have staged a hunger strike this week. Asylum seeker detainees at an immigration facility in Broadmeadows have staged a hunger strike this week. AAP Image

Refugees and hunger strikes: the need to appeal ASIO assessments

27 men detained in Broadmeadows’ Melbourne Immigration Transit Centre (MITA) ended their hunger strike on Wednesday evening. This group of 25 Tamils and two Burmese Rohingyas had gone ten days without…
The arrival of 66 asylum seekers by boat on the mainland coast of Australia at Geraldton has prompted the opposition to promise tough new border security measures, including the use of drones to detect boats at sea. The arrival of 66 asylum seekers by boat on the mainland coast of Australia at Geraldton has prompted the opposition to promise tough new border security measures, including the use of drones to detect boats at sea. AAP/Mark Cairn

All the King’s drones won’t stop the boats

After relying on immigration policies taken from the copy book of John Howard, the Liberal party has turned to defence technology for its latest policy innovation involving drones detecting boats carrying…
For women and children the risks when crossing borders are far greater than men. For women and children the risks when crossing borders are far greater than men. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

Deadly borders: women and children seeking asylum

Crossing borders is far more dangerous for some. The facts are that women and children are more likely to die crossing borders in environmentally hazardous conditions than men. When boats sink or encounter…
Yesterday’s fatalities highlight the importance of ensuring Australian authorities continue to respond to asylum seekers caught at sea. Yesterday’s fatalities highlight the importance of ensuring Australian authorities continue to respond to asylum seekers caught at sea. AAP/Sharon Tisdale

Stop the deaths: rescuing asylum seekers is an integrity issue

We received news yesterday of the latest fatal capsize of a boat carrying asylum seekers towards Australia – the 20th reported sinking event in four years. The two deaths yesterday brought the confirmed…
Tent accommodation at Australia’s detention centre in Nauru. Tent accommodation at Australia’s detention centre in Nauru. AAP/Department of Immigration

Nauru nightmare: immigration policy and Australia’s ‘concentration camp’

Not many people get to see what goes on behind the barbed wired fences of immigration detention centres. Marianne Evers was one of the few who decided to speak out about her work in Nauru. Unsurprisingly…
Passengers were delighted when Alain Delord was plucked from the sea. Why don’t we feel the same way about asylum seekers? Passengers were delighted when Alain Delord was plucked from the sea. Why don’t we feel the same way about asylum seekers? AAP/Orion Expedition Cruises

Compassion for strife at sea is possible … but not if you’re an asylum seeker

Passengers aboard the cruise ship Orion, which recently rescued French sailor Alain Delord in the seas southwest of Hobart, were at first upset that they had to detour from their planned route. They were…
Accommodation on Manus Island, part of a system created by economic mythology around asylum seekers. Accommodation on Manus Island, part of a system created by economic mythology around asylum seekers. PNG

Boat people economics 101: exposing the flawed logic of asylum seeker policy

ABC’s Life Matters recently treated its listeners to something quite rare: a discussion of the economic assumptions implicit in the discourse surrounding boat people. Sociologist Andrew Jakubowicz, who…
Governments should be careful to protect human rights when contracting with businesses, such as health services in immigration detention. Governments should be careful to protect human rights when contracting with businesses, such as health services in immigration detention. Department of Immigration & Citizenship

It’s time for business schools to put human rights on the agenda

Last week, the UN held its first-ever business and human rights forum in Geneva. It’s part of a growing awareness that multinationals have a big impact on human rights. Opening the forum, the UN’s human…
Federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke has attracted a national profile with her left wing views in recent years. Federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke has attracted a national profile with her left wing views in recent years. Office of Melissa Parke MP

In Conversation: Greens are not our enemy, says Labor’s Melissa Parke

Labor’s Melissa Parke probably won’t be too popular with rightwing powerbrokers like Paul Howes with her view that the Greens are a fellow progressive party rather than an insidious enemy to be confronted…
By the time asylum seekers get on boats, it’s often too late. By the time asylum seekers get on boats, it’s often too late. EPA/Tubagus

Cognitive dissonance and sunk cost: the psychology of seeking asylum

With its revamped Pacific Solution, the Australian government has decided to make the choice to take a boat to Australia more horrendous in its implications, by increasing the likelihood of disasters at…
An Australian navy vessel escorts asylum seekers to Christmas Island-but what are our obligations to other vessels? An Australian navy vessel escorts asylum seekers to Christmas Island-but what are our obligations to other vessels? AAP Image/Scott Fisher

Explainer: what are Australia’s duties to rescue at sea?

Australia, like all coastal states, is under an absolute obligation to undertake rescue at sea wherever and whenever necessary. It is not, however, immediately apparent that this is the case. A question…
Current immigration policies promote uncertainty, fear and disempowerment, which contribute to mental illness. Current immigration policies promote uncertainty, fear and disempowerment, which contribute to mental illness. AAP

One step forward, two steps back for asylum seeker mental health

The recent overhaul of Australia’s immigration policies aims to protect the lives of asylum seekers by removing any advantage of arriving by boat. Whether this goal will be achieved remains unclear. But…
The first group to arrive at Manus Island since facilities were reopened flew in on Wednesday. The first group to arrive at Manus Island since facilities were reopened flew in on Wednesday. AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Four steps to more humane refugee processing

The latest announcements about boat-people involved heading further down the wrong track: a track marked out by the Howard government for political reasons, and sold to the public using dishonest rhetoric…
Chris Bowen’s new policy on bridging visas takes the Pacific Solution further in the wrong direction. Chris Bowen’s new policy on bridging visas takes the Pacific Solution further in the wrong direction. AAP/Dean Lewins

Bridging visas send refugee policy further down the wrong track

It is clear enough that the Gillard government’s revived Pacific Solution has not stopped the boats: it has not even slowed them. In 2002, the boats stopped, some months after the Pacific Solution was…
Asylum seekers will now be released into the community with no right to work. Asylum seekers will now be released into the community with no right to work. AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

The ‘no advantage’ myth in refugee processing

In August 2012, the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers created a new myth in the language of asylum seekers and refugees. That was the idea of “the no advantage principle”. It is a variation…
Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrive in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Many will attempt the onward journey to Australia. Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrive in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Many will attempt the onward journey to Australia. EPA/Stringer

Why the increase in Sri Lankan asylum seekers?

Until recently most “boat people” seeking asylum in Australia have come from wartime situations or from dictatorships. But this is not the case for the increasing numbers coming from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka…
With immigration detention recommencing in Nauru, we must monitor the welfare of asylum seekers. With immigration detention recommencing in Nauru, we must monitor the welfare of asylum seekers. AAP image/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

If we care about asylum seekers we must count deaths in detention

The Houston Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers was set the task of reducing deaths of asylum seekers following the mounting loss of life on the seas between Indonesia and Australia. But it remained blind to…
Tents at Nauru that await asylum seekers as their claims are processed. Tents at Nauru that await asylum seekers as their claims are processed. AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

M47 and ASIO case may not prove a victory for refugees after all

The High Court’s decision in the M47 case is likely to be a pyrrhic victory for refugee rights. Last week the High Court ruled that the regulation that allowed the Commonwealth to deny a visa to a refugee…
Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Witches image from www.shutterstock.com

Too many ‘wicked problems’: how science, policy and politics can work together

Wicked problems, so we are told, are everywhere. Climate change, conflict, an ageing population, obesity… the list goes on. The debate over asylum seekers, difficult and important and politically charged…
The new government campaign misses the mark. The new government campaign misses the mark. Australian government

No advantage for Gillard in misguided asylum seeker campaign

With 5,459 attempted boat arrivals to Australia in the first half of 2012, an increase of 894 since last year, it is no wonder the prime minister is desperate to demonstrate she is combating people smuggling…
Both political parties are lining up their elections strategies now, even though an election could still be a year away. Both political parties are lining up their elections strategies now, even though an election could still be a year away. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Feels like an election year? Here’s why

The former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson famously said a week is a long time in politics. If this is the case, then you have to wonder how long it will feel if the current Parliament runs it full…
For many asylum seekers the route to Australia is via Ashmore Reef, and fraught with danger. For many asylum seekers the route to Australia is via Ashmore Reef, and fraught with danger. AAP/Department of Defence

Benevolent neglect: how Indonesia handles its asylum seeker problem

Despite arrivals of asylum seekers by boat being a major political issue for Australia over the last decade, the Indonesian government has not regarded the presence of asylum seekers and refugees with…
Australian troops examine the asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru. Australian troops examine the asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru. AAP/Alex Ellinghauses

Asylum seekers and the Houston Report’s ‘Australian solution’

The Houston panel reported on Monday 13 August 2012. The government has committed to implementing all of its recommendations. In fact, one of its recommendations (recommendation 7) has already been implemented…
Was former defence chief Angus Houston the right sort of expert for the asylum seeker inquiry? Was former defence chief Angus Houston the right sort of expert for the asylum seeker inquiry? AAP/Alan Porritt

Experts, experts and damned experts: did the Houston Report get the right information?

It is now well understood that the Gillard government needed to act decisively to resolve the politics of the asylum seeker crisis. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum one fell, the deaths…
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen may no longer be guardian to unaccompanied asylum seeker minors. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen may no longer be guardian to unaccompanied asylum seeker minors. AAP/Alan Porritt

Expert panel leaves asylum seeker children in the dark

The circumstances of unaccompanied minors are barely addressed by the Houston report on asylum seekers. There is one reference to “vulnerable persons”. This is in the context of transferring those with…
The Conversation expert panel and the Houston panel: same terms of reference, different recommendations. The Conversation expert panel and the Houston panel: same terms of reference, different recommendations. AAP/Alan Porritt

Houston report on asylum seekers: did the panel listen to the experts?

Angus Houston’s expert panel on asylum seekers released its final report yesterday. Charged by the prime minister with breaking the political deadlock on asylum seeker policy, the panel has handed down…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley in Canberra. Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porritt

The sad politics of the Houston Report on asylum seekers

Greeting the findings of the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers, The Australian front page exclaimed “At last, people put before politics”. This is, of course, ridiculous. The Malaysian solution would…
In asylum seeker policy, the most punitive measures are the most politically acceptable. In asylum seeker policy, the most punitive measures are the most politically acceptable. AAP/Lukas Coch

For asylum seekers, ‘disincentives’ are the new deterrence

Remarkably, in all the 162 pages of the Houston panel’s report on asylum seekers, the word “deter” does not appear a single time. But this does not necessarily indicate a welcome move away from the deterrence-based…
Gillard’s expert panel - Michael L'Estrange, Angus Houston and Paris Aristotle (L-R) - gave her exactly what she wanted. Gillard’s expert panel - Michael L'Estrange, Angus Houston and Paris Aristotle (L-R) - gave her exactly what she wanted. AAP/Alan Porritt

Hard-headed politics: ask the right experts and you’ll get the answers you want

Politics drives policy, and not the other way around. If we ever needed a sober reminder of this democratic truism, we got it in the political responses to the expert panel’s report on asylum seeker policy…
Rohingya asylum seekers from Myanmar rest at a temporary shelter in the port of Krueng Raya, Aceh, Indonesia. Rohingya asylum seekers from Myanmar rest at a temporary shelter in the port of Krueng Raya, Aceh, Indonesia. EPA/Hotli Simanjuntak

Houston panel offers a circuit breaker in regional asylum crisis

As we waited for the release of the Houston panel’s report on asylum seekers yesterday, I saw a mixture of high hopes and low expectations from those in attendance at the Parliament House briefing room…
The Houston panel - Paris Aristotle, Angus Houston and Michael L'Estrange - briefed the media on their findings yesterday afternoon. The Houston panel - Paris Aristotle, Angus Houston and Michael L'Estrange - briefed the media on their findings yesterday afternoon. AAP/Alan Porritt

Houston panel ignores the evidence on asylum seekers

The Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers contains some threads of a genuine shift from the prevailing framework towards a more regulatory model for responding to asylum seekers. The panel has abandoned…
Seven Cameroonians disappeared this week … but why? Seven Cameroonians disappeared this week … but why? EPA/Dennis M. Sabangan

The case of the lost athletes – when Olympians seek asylum

Every four years, the Olympics brings us plenty of drama on and off the sports field. This year has been no different with seven athletes from Cameroon absconding from the Olympic village and more anticipated…
There is a fairer and more humane way of dealing with asylum seekers. There is a fairer and more humane way of dealing with asylum seekers. AAP/Department of Defence

Saving lives at sea: the asylum seeker expert panel reports

After two weeks of assessing the evidence, discussing policy and reporting on fieldwork, The Conversation’s asylum seeker expert panel has made its findings. Using information from our research repository…
35 years of refugee journeys, charted on an interactive map. 35 years of refugee journeys, charted on an interactive map.

Infographic: global refugee populations 1975-2010

Welcome to our new infographic, displaying global populations of refugees from 1975-2010, as part of The Conversation’s expert panel on asylum seekers. Using UNHCR data compiled by the United Nations Refugee…
Our panel will consider options to prevent deaths at sea. Our panel will consider options to prevent deaths at sea. AAP/Basarnas

The Conversation panel on asylum seekers: meet the experts

The Conversation has brought together a team of six academic experts to tackle one of the thorniest issues in Australian politics - asylum seeker deaths at sea. Over the next few weeks, they’ll be examining…
Detention on Nauru is not the answer – and neither is the Malaysian solution. Detention on Nauru is not the answer – and neither is the Malaysian solution. AAP/Rural Australians for Refugees

Fraser: increase refugee intake, process in Indonesia and Malaysia

Recent debates on asylum seeker problems have revolved around two approaches that are not going to work. The opposition’s Nauru solution is not going to get people off boats. It is part of the process…
Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre. Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre. DIAC

Asylum seekers and Australia: the evidence

Welcome to The Conversation’s research repository on asylum seeker issues. When public debate has ground to a halt over something as serious as lives lost at sea, it’s time to look to what the evidence…
Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma in a temporary shelter at Aceh, Indonesia. Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma in a temporary shelter at Aceh, Indonesia. EPA/Hotli Simanjuntak

Want to stop the boats? Make refuge accessible off-shore

Last week Australia’s politicians determined to “do something” to stop people risking their lives at sea on asylum boats headed for Australia. The government wanted a bill from independent MP Rob Oakeshott…
Refugees on boats en route to Australia are seen by many Indonesians as our problem, not theirs. Refugees on boats en route to Australia are seen by many Indonesians as our problem, not theirs. AAP/Karlis Salna

Not our problem: the Indonesian perspective on asylum seekers

If the lead stories in the digital and print media are anything to go by, Indonesians have little interest in the recent asylum seeker boat sinkings and the accompanying loss of life. Over the past couple…
Refugees stuck in Malaysia are not a means to an end - their rights as individuals are inviolable. Refugees stuck in Malaysia are not a means to an end - their rights as individuals are inviolable. AAP/Karlis Salna

The moral philosophy of the Malaysia Solution

There’s a knock on the door. It’s late, and it has been a wild and stormy night. You wonder who could possibly be outside in this weather. Opening the door you find a young man collapsed on your doorstep…
A boat carrying asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island today. A boat carrying asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island today. AAP/Rossbach/Krepp

Don’t blame people smugglers – bad policy leads to deaths at sea

As I write this, mainstream political parties are locked in a futile battle to determine whose deterrence-based policy will prevail. Debates like the one we saw yesterday in the House of Representatives…
While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. AAP/Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Six issues missing from the asylum seeker debate

When asylum seekers die at sea there are too many things we don’t want to talk about. Following the news of another asylum boat capsizing yesterday, at 2pm the federal Parliament began with a sombre and…
There is no queue. There is no queue. EPA/Lynn Bo Bo

Refugee populations across the globe: the facts

Refugees are created by wars and persecution. People flee their homes because their governments will not, or cannot, protect them from harm and allow them to live in peace. Under international law, as…
Some Australian refugees develop “protracted asylum seeker syndrome”. Some Australian refugees develop “protracted asylum seeker syndrome”. Alex E. Proimos

Long waits for refugee status lead to new mental health syndrome

There’s a common misconception within the Australian community that asylum seekers arrive by boat. In fact, most asylum seekers arrive here by aeroplane with valid travel documents and reside in the community…
Refugees can be detained indefinitely if they do not pass security clearance. Refugees can be detained indefinitely if they do not pass security clearance. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Give refugees the right to appeal security assessments – just like the rest of us

Last night, Lateline reported on a five-year-old refugee who faced the prospect of being separated from his father forever. His father had failed an ASIO security assessment, which under current policies…
Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney in 2008. Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney in 2008. AAP/Dean Lewins

Chinese refugees risking lives for asylum in New Zealand

UPDATE: The Chinese nationals have now elected to stay in Australia, where they will seek asylum. A group of ten Chinese people fleeing persecution in their home country has presented Australian authorities…
The government’s obligations to immigration detainees are very similar to those of prisoners. The government’s obligations to immigration detainees are very similar to those of prisoners. AAP/Dean Lewins

After Serco, what rights do asylum seekers have in detention?

A training manual instructing immigration detention centre guards to use force to incapacitate detainees was leaked this week. It included techniques to kick, punch and target pressure points on detainees…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has resurrected former coalition government policy to “turn back” boats seeking asylum in Australia. Opposition leader Tony Abbott has resurrected former coalition government policy to “turn back” boats seeking asylum in Australia. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

Abbott’s asylum seeker policy floats in murky legal waters

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said that under a coalition government every boat coming to Australia carrying asylum seekers will be sent back to Indonesia. The Indonesian police, the United Nations…
How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? AAP/Josh Jerga

Five ways to prevent more asylum seeker tragedies

Last weekend, an overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Indonesia with more than 200 asylum seekers on board. In Australia, the political blame game started soon after with both sides trying to…
Increasing our refugee intake will remove the incentive to get on boats. Increasing our refugee intake will remove the incentive to get on boats. AAP/Josh Jerga

If we’re serious about stopping the boats we must take more refugees

Another refugee boat has sunk. Several hundred people have drowned. Why do they keep trying to come? What should our response be? If you are an optimist with no sense of history, you would be forgiven…
Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why Australia should abandon the Refugee Convention

With the collapse of offshore processing, and the likely increase in boat arrivals into a politically charged environment, a cross-road may have been reached regarding asylum policy in Australia. Now would…
Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Dead refugee caught in ‘legal limbo’ between government agencies

The asylum seeker who committed suicide in Villawood detention centre this week should have been interviewed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to establish whether he should have been released into the community…
Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seekers to be processed onshore as PM weighs up a long week in politics

The Malaysia Solution isn’t quite dead, but its vital signs are certainly not good. With a steely look in her eye, and barely concealed anger, Julia Gillard blamed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for “trashing…
Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. AFP/Saeed Khan

A cynical Migration Bill ignores Australia’s international obligations

Later today the Australian Government plans to put the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 to a vote in the House of Representatives. Without it, the government’s…
The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Hypocrisy over Bali teenager as Indonesian children remain in jail

This week the nation has been in an uproar over the arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy in Indonesia, accused of buying drugs. TV news reports discussed the terrible conditions of the prison, where…
Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen after the High Court ruled the Malaysian Solution invalid. Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen after the High Court ruled the Malaysian Solution invalid. AAP

Onshore processing: what it means for asylum seekers

The Federal Government’s position on handling asylum seekers is in disarray. The High Court has ruled its Malaysia Solution invalid and the Coalition has indicated it will not support moves to amend the…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. AAP

Malaysian Solution 2.0: Gillard turns heat on Abbott for offshore processing

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced the Government would seek to legislate in order to revive the “Malaysian Solution” ruled illegal by the High Court earlier this month. The plan would see Australia…
Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. AAP/Lukas Coch

Luckless Labor’s Malaysia failure

The American comedian WC Fields once joked that the best advice in business was “never give a sucker an even break”. Now the High Court has rejected the government’s deal with Malaysia to swap asylum seekers…
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen faces severe problems after the High Court ruling. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen faces severe problems after the High Court ruling. AAP

Malaysia Solution: ‘Stand back and take a deep breath’ says Burnside

The decision by the full bench of the High Court ruling the Gillard Government’s Malaysia Solution for dealing with asylum seekers who arrive by boat invalid creates a massive problem for the minority…
Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. AAP/Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Australia’s human rights record has not improved since the Tampa

The dramatic rescue of more than 400 asylum seekers by the Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, ten years ago set in train a series of events that has since caused immense suffering to so many. It is surely now…
Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. AAP/Josh Jerga

There are better alternatives to the ‘Malaysia solution’

The government’s controversial “Malaysia solution”, in which Australia “swaps” refugees with Malaysia is being challenged in the High Court this week. Asylum seekers are being backed by the Australian…
Campaigners in Sydney protesting against the Malaysian Solution. Campaigners in Sydney protesting against the Malaysian Solution. AAP

High Court ruling: the end for the Malaysian Solution?

The High Court’s extension of an injunction preventing the deportation of asylum seekers under the so-called Malaysian Solution threatens to present the Gillard Government with a major political problem…
Mentally ill detainees should be placed in the community for treatment and support. Mentally ill detainees should be placed in the community for treatment and support. AAP

Asylum seeker mental health probe long overdue

The Commonwealth Ombudsman yesterday launched an investigation into rising rates of self-harm among detainees of Australia’s immigration detention centres, after it emerged that 50 instances of cutting…
Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna. Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna.

Malaysian refugee swap spells human rights disaster

On Monday, Australia and Malaysia signed a deal that will mean 800 refugees that have arrived in Australia will be swapped with 4,000 verified refugees from Malaysia. This deal from both Australian and…
A Tamil Tiger fighter killed by Sri Lankan forces on May 14 2009. A Tamil Tiger fighter killed by Sri Lankan forces on May 14 2009. AAP

Australian animals or Tamil people: who do we care more about?

What makes Australians morally outraged? What gets really gets our blood boiling? It would seem that Four Corners has inadvertently put this question to the test this week. On Monday the 4th of July 2011…
Go Back To Where You Came From participants prepare to go on patrol in Baghdad with the US military. Go Back To Where You Came From participants prepare to go on patrol in Baghdad with the US military. AFP PHOTO/ HO/ 2011 CORDELL JIGSAW/SBS

SBS preaching to the converted on refugees

SBS’ recent three-part series Go Back to Where You Came From is, simply, a manipulative piece of media spin calculated to redress the balance of a media spun too far towards racist insularity. The intentions…
Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. SBS: Go back to where you came from

Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis

Tonight, during World Refugee Week, SBS One premieres Go Back to Where You Came From. Over three nights the series plunges six Australian participants into the intense fear and desperation of the refugee/asylum…
Malaysian refugee activist Irene Fernandez protests outside the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian refugee activist Irene Fernandez protests outside the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. AAP

Explainer: The facts about the Malaysian solution and Australia’s international obligations

The Gillard government’s proposed “Malaysian solution” for dealing with asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat has come under considerable scrutiny. Under the agreement Australia will send 800…
Dehumanising asylum seekers isn’t helping them or us. Dehumanising asylum seekers isn’t helping them or us. AAP

Out of mind out of sight, but we’re not treating asylum seekers right

For a brief moment in 2008 asylum seeker advocates were optimistic. This moment of optimism has now gone. As the government announces plans to send newly arriving asylum seekers to Malaysia and also enters…
aapone christmas island asylum seekers original. aapone christmas island asylum seekers original.

Refugees: Now we have the Malaysian solution, but what’s the problem?

If Julia Gillard’s “Malaysian solution” tells us anything, it’s that Tony Abbott’s stop-the-boats mantra has redefined the debate on refugees. The Prime Minister has previously committed to not doing any…
Julias Gillard has raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese. Julias Gillard has raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese. AAP

Australia’s B+ human rights record: good but must improve

Can Prime Minister Julia Gillard lecture China on its human rights record given the many failings observers see in Australia’s own treatment of vulnerable groups? Australia generally has a good human rights…

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