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      6   WORLD REFUGEE DAY

The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Ms Parke—That this House:

(1)    notes:

(a)    that 20 June each year is World Refugee Day, celebrating the courageous spirit and resilience of more than 10 million refugees around the world;

(b)   that the global theme for World Refugee Day 2011, occurring in the year of the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations Refugee Convention, is ‘1 refugee without hope is too many.’;

(c)    Australia’s history of support for the United Nations Refugee Convention and its objectives, being the sixth signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention which brought the convention into force in 1954, and having since welcomed 750,000 refugees who have made an enormous contribution to the culture, economy and social fabric of Australian society; and

(d)   that much of the political, media and public commentary in Australia regarding asylum seekers and refugees misses or ignores the following facts:

(i)    of the more than 10 million refugees identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , just over 100,000 or 1 per cent are resettled under orderly programs each year, which means that if someone puts their name on a list today they could wait more than 100 years for processing;

(ii)   in many countries wracked by conflict, like Iraq or Afghanistan, there is no list or queue to join;

(iii)  Australia’s 8,250 asylum seekers in 2010 is a minimal number compared with the 358,000 people who sought asylum in the 44 major industrialised counties in 2010, and compared with the millions of people from Iraq and Afghanistan who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries like Jordan, Iran and Pakistan;

(iv)  only two per cent of the world’s asylum claims are made in Australia;

(v)   persons fleeing from persecution are not ‘illegals’, they have a legal right under international law to seek asylum, and under the Menzies Government, Australia agreed to this by signing up to the United Nations Refugee Convention; and

(vi)  while Essential Research has reported that 25 per cent of Australians believe that 75 per cent of our migrant intake is made up of asylum seekers, in fact only 1 per cent of Australia’s annual migrant intake comes from them and even less from asylum seekers who arrive by boat;

(2)    notes the UNHCR report of April 2011 entitled Back to Basics: The Right to Liberty and Security of Person and ‘Alternatives to Detention’ of Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, Stateless Persons and Other Migrants and welcomes the forthcoming parliamentary inquiry into mandatory detention;

(3)    recognises that it is possible to protect Australia’s borders while also treating asylum seekers fairly, humanely and in accordance with international law; and

(4)    calls for:

(a)    a return to bipartisanship in support of a reasoned, principled and facts-based approach to the issue of asylum seekers and refugees; and

(b)   Australia to continue to work with other nations and the United Nations to address the complex global and regional challenges associated with increased numbers of asylum seekers and other people movements that cannot be addressed by countries acting on their own ( see item No. 5, Votes and Proceedings )—

Debate resumed.

The time allotted for the debate having expired, the debate was interrupted, and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting.