‘Is PNG a viable option for asylum seekers?’


Shveata Chandel Singh talks to members of the Indian community

Under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s dramatic and ‘hard-line’ new Refugee laws, it appears that no asylum seeker who comes by boat will ever be resettled in Australia.

According to the new laws, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia. They will instead be sent to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for processing, and if found to be refugees, will be resettled there.

Asylum seekers already on Manus Island and Nauru, as well as those detained in Australia, however, are not subject to the new laws.

PM Rudd has stated that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure they have a robust system of border security and orderly migration, on the one hand, as well as fulfilling their legal and compassionate obligations under the refugee’s convention on the other.

However, Kevin Rudd has said that the agreement purposely did not cap how many asylum seekers could be sent to PNG.
Here is the perspective of the people from Indian community on this.

Shubha Kumar (president, Indian Club)

Kevin Rudd’s policy in 2008 had opened the floodgates for asylum seekers’ boats. He dismantled what was a workable system that John Howard left in place.

Protecting borders and having a genuinely orderly migration program are key concerns for any nation. He has taken bold steps to fix the problem that he created himself but the details are missing.

The policy is not passed by Parliament. What will happen if Labor loses the election? There are several questions that need answers. What has he promised to PNG, what will it cost to Australia to support PNG, the cost that will be funded by taxpayers’ money and so on? It also remains to be seen that the policy stops the boats.

Kevin is full of himself and at this stage he is making announcements to win the election. What will happen after the election remains to be seen?

Amarinder Bajwa (vice-president, Sikh Council of Australia)

This is a good initiative and asylum seekers are one of the priority issues in Australia which needs an immediate attention.

This PNG solution will actually reinforce the government to solve the ever mounting problem of the people jumping into the boats and landing to take refuge in Australia. Many people have died in this process, so the need was to find some solution to this problem.

What PNG will be and how it will work is still to be seen, but I would say that it is a strong step towards fixing the problem of the asylum seekers.

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