As our politicians return to Canberra for the next session of Parliament, at the top of everyone’s mind is the asylum seeker issue. The last parliamentary sitting week basically left Australia at an impasse – with neither side of politics being willing to negotiate a solution that would deter asylum seekers from making the dangerous journey to Australia by boat.
How did we end up at this political roadblock?
There was passionate debate on the floor of the Parliament, that made absolutely clear that all sides of politics are anxious to see a system that will prevent more deaths at sea.
But with the Coalition determined to maintain the political advantage they have with the electorate in this policy area and the Government desperate to claw back some ground – the political deadlock was never going to be broken.
Unable to legislate as it wished to, the Government established an expert panel, who have spent the last 6 weeks coming up with 22 key recommendations which – taken together – are intended to address Australia’s asylum seeker challenges.
What is the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers and why does it matter?
The panel was chaired by former Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is respected on both sides as a hard-working, intelligent and fair minded man.
The panel’s report was released today and Air Chief Marshal Houston described their approach as “hard-headed but not hard-hearted. realistic not idealistic,” and “driven by a sense of humanity as well as fairness.”
What does the report say?