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Save lives by providing safer pathways

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MEDIA RELEASE Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Tuesday 17 July 2012

Save lives by providing safer pathways Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne and Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young today participated in the parliamentary Multi-Party Reference Group to engage with the Expert Panel on asylum seeker policy. The Greens have put forward proposals that can be undertaken immediately to save the lives of people seeking protection in Australia. These include increasing our humanitarian intake, de-coupling the onshore and offshore humanitarian quotas, giving greater support to UNHCR for regional assessment and expanding family reunion places as part of the special humanitarian program. The below is an abridged transcript of the press conference held earlier today. “The Greens point of view has always been to prioritise the well-being of desperate people seeking a better life in our country and to make sure we create safer pathways for them to Australia,” Senator Christine Milne said today. “We talked through many of those issues and again reiterated as we did to the Prime Minister that our participation comes purely from the point of view of trying to make sure that we put the lives of asylum seekers at the fore and that we frame any outcome in terms of a regional framework based on our commitment to the Refugee Convention and our international law obligations. “It was a really constructive discussion from members of parliament across the board; it was just disappointing that the Coalition has decided not to participate with other members of parliament in this discussion. “We look forward to the Expert Panel considering the proposals we put forward very carefully and that of course goes not only to a regional framework but putting more money into Indonesia, to UNHCR, to accelerate regional assessment of people seeking asylum and also codifying our obligations to the safety of life at sea so that we can respond as soon as we know that boats are in trouble. “Today Anthony Albanese came out with a view which is completely and utterly unrealistic and actually goes against what the human rights conventions say in relation to de-coupling of the number of people who are arriving here by boat and people we’re taking from refugee placements in camps around the world.” “Deterrence has never worked. It didn’t work when we introduced mandatory detention 20 years ago and we were told that would stop the boats. It didn’t work when we introduced temporary protection visas and we were told that would stop the boats. It didn’t work when we locked people in Nauru. It didn’t stop the boats - despite what the Opposition might say, despite the rewriting of history, dozens of boats came ...and several of them sank with very vulnerable men and women and children on board” Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. “This idea of punishing people because they are in a desperate situation and they have made a decision between life and death doesn’t give them safety, it doesn’t give them protection; it simply pushes them anywhere else but here. “What will stop people boarding these boats is knowing that there are safer pathways. “It is now time - with very strong calls from those experts, the 200+ academics who wrote to the Expert Panel and members of parliament yesterday, the dozens of refugee experts and legal professionals around the world who have contributed to previous expert panel processes as well, plus the UNHCR coming out very strongly today and saying if you want to stop people from

having to take that dangerous journey, de-couple the program, lift the intake and do more to accelerate the assessment of people in Indonesia and Malaysia and bring people here directly. They are things that we can be doing now. “Things that we can do today to save lives include de-coupling and ensuring that we raise the number of people that we bring directly from Malaysia and Indonesia. You don’t need legislation to do that; the Government could choose to do that today.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Farrow 0427 604 760