23 May 2011


The Edmund Rice Centre has again lamented the partisan political nature of the Australian response to the treatment of asylum seekers which ignores humanitarian concerns.

In an article which appeared in a recent newsletter, it was pointed out that overwhelmingly asylum seekers arriving in Australia are genuine refugees and their relatively small numbers place little burden on the Australian tax-payer.

The article goes on to criticise both major parties "Sadly - despite these realities - the management of our nation's asylum policy is in the hands of an Opposition who repeatedly demonstrate they have no conscience in beating up the issues, and a Government who still show no back-bone to achieve the common-sense and compassionate management outlined in the policy platform which they taken to successive elections."

The comments were sparked by the recent announcement by the Australian government of a deal whereby 800 asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat will be transferred to Malaysia in return for resettling additional refugees from Malaysia over the next four years. The deal was also criticised by the Refugee Council of Australia for ignoring Malaysia’s record of mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, described as one "of the most inhumane refugee policies in Asia".

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops the Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office has also renewed its call to end mandatory detention, citing serious mental health concerns about the impact of detention on vulnerable people. "Mandatory detention inflicts extreme suffering and frustration on already vulnerable people. We are all witnesses to the human cost of immigration detention. The government cannot deny that prolonged detention will likely result in instances of suicide. The fact that five asylum seekers in the last seven months have died, weighs heavily on the social conscience of Australia" the statement concluded.

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