The Australian Greens refugee policy is a compassionate, commonsense alternative to the way the old parties want to treat vulnerable asylum-seekers, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Senator Hanson-Young, Greens Spokesperson on Immigration and Human Rights, says the Federal Government's ill-prepared East Timor processing centre idea coupled with the Coalition's return to the days of the notorious Temporary Protection Visas and the Pacific Solution, shows both parties are devoid of real leadership on this issue.
"Australia needs to take a genuine leadership role on helping to manage asylum seekers in our region,'' Senator Hanson-Young said. "That means assessing people on our soil, increasing the number of refugees we resettle here and convincing Indonesia and Malaysia to sign the UN Refugee Convention.
"That's why the Greens would close the failed Christmas Island detention centre in favour of community reception centres based in mainland cities.
"By ending Australia's reliance on offshore processing, the Greens would no longer allow the Federal Government to put vulnerable asylum-seekers out of sight, out of mind.
"By increasing Australia's humanitarian intake, the Greens would move Australia to take greater responsibility for dealing with the growing numbers of people already approved as genuine refugees by the UNHCR, who are languishing in detention overseas awaiting a new home.
"By moving to mainland processing in metropolitan centres, the Greens would ensure greater access to much-needed support and services for those fleeing persecution, rather than maintaining a regime of punitive detention on remote islands or "desert prisons''.
The Greens would:
* Close Christmas Island and use a portion of the money already earmarked for use on the island - $973 million over four years - to set up Community Reception Centres in mainland cities.
* Set up a grants-based Asylum-Seeker Support Fund of $8 million over four years to assist community organisations to provide essential services for refugees and asylum-seekers. Organisations would apply for a grant of up to $100,000 to assist in the delivery of case management, health care, emergency relief, social support and housing support. The fund would be administered by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
* Push Australia to take a leading role in the region by hosting any regional processing centre.
* Increase Australia's humanitarian intake to 20,000 refugees - focusing on those already waiting in detention camps in the region.
* Move to end the detention of children in Australia.
* Champion the Greens' bill to establish a Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People to protect young non-citizens who have arrived in Australia without support.
* Move to introduce judicial review for detention decisions.
"Recent polling shows the Australian public understand the realities better than some of their leaders - 83 per cent believe those fleeing persecution deserve protection in another country and 94 per cent would use every asset at their disposal to flee to another country if their own lives and their families' lives were under threat,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.
"It's time to get past the idea of punishing people who are fleeing persecution and instead focus on faster processing to work out who the genuine refugees are. Australia can do better, and the Greens have a plan to make it happen.''