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Labor's adoption of Abbott's refugee policy is short-sighted and unsafe: Greens

The Greens have today expressed dismay at Labor's decision to adopt Tony Abbott's refugee "turn-back" policies and the keep the Nauru and Manus Island camps open.

"Labor had an opportunity today to stand up against the cruelty of turn-backs and the suffering of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, but sadly they failed. Many Australians will be heartbroken and gutted," Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said today.

"Turning back boats with women and children on board is never safe; turning them away in their hour of need is inhumane and dangerous.

"The decision by Labor to copy Tony Abbott's mean-spirited and dangerous turn-backs policy will end in fewer families being safe. 

"Labor's capitulation to the Coalition's anti-refugee rhetoric won't end well, it never has. It is short-sighted and mean.

"No matter how the Labor leadership try to explain why they've made this decision, the truth is this is politics at its worst. It is a race to the bottom where human rights, the law and decency are sacrificed.

"Turn-backs have never been about saving lives or helping refugees, they are the key plank of Tony Abbott's anti-refugee campaign and pretending otherwise is cyclical and foolish.

"If every country turned back boats, refugees would have nowhere safe to go. It's arrogant to believe that Australia should be able to push refugees away but everyone else must act within the law.

"Pushing boats back doesn't make refugees lives any safer, it simply shifts the gravestones to somewhere else or some other waters.

"Rather than pushing refugees over the horizon to die somewhere else, Australia needs to engage in our region to help provide safer passage for refugees.

"Turn-backs will continue to undermine any chance Australia has to engage our regional neighbours in achieving a humanitarian response to refugees.

"Labor should have accepted the truth and the evidence that detention on Manus Island and Nauru has been a humanitarian disaster and hasn't worked.  Shutting these camps and offering sanctuary to those harmed by these policies would have been a step forward, but today, Labor failed to do the right thing.”

Media Contact: Rachel Ryan 0427 604 760

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