Thursday, August 2, 2012

Australia should say no to boat arrivals, says ex-Immigration official

A FORMER top Immigration Department official says Australia must close the door on boat people.

Former first assistant secretary Des Storer has told the Gillard Government's expert panel on asylum seekers that the current system was a confusing and contradictory farce.

Mr Storer, who was highly respected by both the Coalition and Labor governments, said in his submission that the only solution was for Australia to change migration laws to stop boat arrivals applying for visas.

"This can be done by excising Australia for the purposes of migration. This would mean that all unauthorised arrivals would be detained," he said in the submission co-authored by fellow Monash academic Adrienne Millbank.

Mr Storer told the Herald Sun yesterday that asylum seekers should be given options such as being sent back to Indonesia, returned to their home countries or sent to refugee camps of their choice.

"If you really want to stop the boats and protect people's lives that is the best way," he said.

Under the proposal, Australia would legally not be in breach of its international refugee obligations, and High Court challenges to offshore processing would be avoided.

Mr Storer and Ms Millbank said the money saved from processing and detaining asylum seekers could be used to double Australias official refugee intake to up to 25,000, with priority given to people in most need in overseas camps.

Mr Storer, who retired in 2008 and is now an adjunct professor at Monash University, said that many of those reaching Indonesia had the money to pay people smugglers who promised access to Australia's attractive legal system.

"Some may or may not be escaping serious persecution...they're taking advantage of the opportunities to be able to utilise the system better than other people can who are trapped in camps in much more serious conditions," he said.


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