Refugee advocates argue while the Gillard government should be applauded for the first step in releasing children from detention as of next June, they should go further and cement the move in legislation to protect the rights of asylum seeker children permanently. They argue this kind of call should not be left to the minister of the day’s discretion.

Why?

Because this is what the polling looks like on this issue. Here’s Essential Research on the subject yesterday:

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government’s decision to move children and their families out of immigration detention centres and allow them to live in the community while their cases are being processed?

essential

Only 33% approve of the government’s decision to let children and families live in the community, compared to 53% who disapprove. The move drew very high rates of strong disapproval — 23% of Labor voters, 38% of Liberal voters and even 16% of Greens voters, although 63% of Greens voters approved of the decision, compared to only 24% of Liberals and 42% of Labor voters — juxtaposed with the 43% of Labor voters who disapproved.

By gender: men 38% approve/50% disapprove, women 28% approve/57% disapprove.

Clearly the public need to be educated on this one. Because mounting an effective argument for keeping kids locked up is pretty much impossible. But that’s just it, an anonymous respondent to a poll doesn’t have to mount any kind of argument, justification or defence of what is essentially an indefensible position.

Our government does. It’s time it lead definitively on this, and permanently. No ifs or buts.

Peter Fray

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