As worldwide displacement hits an all time high due to wars, conflict and persecution, the Australian government recently highlighted its record of stopping the boats and being the 3rd biggest resettler of refugees globally.
This record, however, is overshadowed by growing concern in light of our legal obligations as signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Australia’s border protection policy continues to be fraught with grave concerns about our treatment of asylum seekers, the secrecy and lack of transparency of detention centres. Its premise of combating people-smuggling by turning boats back or stopping them continues to be criticised as being short-sighted by prominent experts. David Manne, Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, for example comments that it, “does nothing to address the desperate circumstances that lead people to risk their lives at sea”. Professor Siracusa, Professor of Human Security and International Diplomacy from RMIT, has not only said, in a channel 9 television interview, that “stopping slave traders doesn’t stop what’s going on in the slave business” but has also said that there is the view that Australia has an “apartheid regime when it comes to refugees”. The government, however, upholds its border protection model as exemplary.