The refugee policy of every major Australian political party, explained

The Greens are the only party to oppose offshore detention.

The first leaders’ debate of the 2022 election campaign kicked off on Wednesday night, and the topic of asylum seeker policies has once again been pushed back into the spotlight.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese took to the stage in Brisbane on Wednesday night to answer questions from undecided voters as we enter the final month of the election campaign.

One of the many topics discussed was each side’s policy regarding asylum seekers and refugees. So, let’s dive deep into the politics of each major party.


The Coalition’s policy towards asylum seekers is known as Operation Sovereign Borders. It is a military-led operation that was first proposed by Tony Abbott in 2013 and signed into law when the Coalition took power. At its core, Operation Sovereign Borders is a “stop the boat” policy.

“Anyone attempting an illegal sea voyage to Australia will be turned away or taken to Nauru for processing. They will never settle in Australia,” Home Secretary Karen Andrews said. Last year.

Interestingly, Scott Morrison was actually the immigration secretary when the notoriously horrible asylum seeker policy was first invented – which explains his laser-cut “I arrested these” boat trophy which sits on his desk.

According to the government OSB guidance document, the main objectives were:

  • Detain asylum seekers in offshore detention centers (Nauru and Manus Island) while asylum claims are being processed.
  • Reverse boats “where safe to do so”.
  • Reintroduce temporary protection visas for refugees.

This policy has long been criticized for violating human rights, with the detention center on Manus Island literally shut down after being deemed unconstitutional. According to UNthe current system is contrary to the convention against torture, with a prosecutor of the international criminal court calling it “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

And just last year, the UN Human Rights Council slammed the secrecy policy on ‘water issues’ for making it virtually impossible to know what the military was doing. actually when intercepting ships at sea.

“So what coercive measures are being deployed against them by the Australian officers to convince them to just turn around and go back to Indonesia? Madeline Gleeson, senior researcher at UNSW’s Kaldor Center for International Refugee Law, said in a presentation to the UN forum Last year. “We have seen reports of Australian officials paying smugglers to bring people back – which, if true, would appear to involve serious breaches of Australian and international law.

“But what else is going on in the seas north and west of Australia?”

So, TL; DR? The Coalition’s policy is so bad that it violates international law.


On Tuesday, Shadow Home Secretary Kristina Keneally confirmed that Labor ‘fully supports Operation Sovereign Borders – offshore processing, regional relocation and boat pushbacks where safe to do so’.

“No one who has tried to come by boat since the Sovereign Borders operation will be allowed to settle in Australia,” Keneally said.

A tweet echoing the same sentiment was quickly ridiculed on social media on Wednesday.

The only real thing that Labor does not support is temporary protection visas (TVP), which resulted in a lot of back and forth between Labor and the Liberals. As the name suggests, TPVs are a type of visa granted to people who arrive in Australia without a visa, but are entitled to protection. These visas can last up to 3 years and allow the visa holder to work, access medical care and live temporarily in Australia.

Keneally said this week that POS terminals are no longer needed as anyone who comes to Australia by boat “will be turned away or sent to Nauru”.

“No one has been granted a temporary protection visa who has tried to come by boat since the introduction of Operation Sovereign Borders,” Keneally told ABC National Radio on Thursday. “The only people in Australia on TPVs were under the Liberal and Labor government before Operation Sovereign Borders was introduced. They have lived in the country for more than a decade: they live, they work, they pay taxes, they employ Australians.

TL; DR? We share hair if we talk about the difference between the Labor position and the Coalition refugee position.

The Greens

Green policy, on the other hand, is based on the idea that Australia has a duty to meet its humanitarian and legal obligations. Specifically, the Greens note that seeking asylum is a human right and – as such – the issue is fundamentally humanitarian, rather than a border security issue.

The Greens also oppose “the arbitrary detention of refugees”, calling it a “flagrant violation of human rights”.

In his policy file, The Greens explicitly call for “the elimination of mandatory and indefinite detention, and the abolition of offshore processing (where an asylum seeker, refugee or special category visa holder is removed from Australian territory to another country to be assessed) and other forms of punishment or discriminatory treatment”.

Immigration spokesman Senator Nick McKim criticized both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party for their recent comments. “Labour has long been in tune with the Liberals when it comes to detention at sea and the return of boats to sea. But now they have even abandoned the pretense of being caring,” McKim said. “While it was not clear before, we now know beyond doubt that there is a bipartisan policy of brutalizing, dehumanizing and torturing innocent people, and endangering people in violation of international human rights law. the man.

“The past ten years have been one of the darkest and bloodiest chapters in our nation’s history, and it’s time to write the end.”

Photo credits: Martin Ollman/Getty Images, Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images, Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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