Federal

Nov 1, 2012

The ‘excision’ that isn’t, and why it’s good policy

The government's bill for the so-called "excision" of Australia is sound policy if we're serious about stopping boat arrivals. Criticism of the move is sharply misguided.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Report of the expert panel on asylum seekers, August 2012:

“The panel considers that all possible measures should be implemented to avoid creating an incentive for IMAs taking even greater risks with their lives by seeking to reach the Australian mainland … the panel recommends the government bring forward legislative amendments to the Migration Act 1958 so that arrival on the Australian mainland by irregular maritime means does not provide individuals with a different lawful status than those who enter at an excised offshore place, such as Christmas Island … such an amendment will be important to ensure that introduction of processing outside Australia does not encourage asylum seekers to avoid these arrangements by attempting to enter at the Australian mainland. Such attempts would increase the existing dangers inherent in irregular maritime travel.”

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109 comments

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109 thoughts on “The ‘excision’ that isn’t, and why it’s good policy

  1. francho

    the only sensible comment i’ve read on the subject so far. I tried earlier to add the below comment (referring to Craig Thompson’s position) to the fairfax pulse website but it was rejected – they obviously don’t like paticular policy positions over there, very strange and won’t be trying again. Maybe i will have better luck here.

    Thomson now has a moral compass? I don’t think so. Returning to the pacific solution, malaysia, no advantage, etc, etc, were the lurching right steps. Excising the mainland will make little difference to refugees who mainly try to reach outer territories, but it will stop some trying to make it all the way here on boats that are not seaworthy. Without the change tony abbott would make a meal of Labor when the next boat made it to the mainland. There is a lot of posturing about this legislation but the Labor party changed its position on asylum seekers a while back and perhaps everyone should just read the expert panel report – that’s what the govt is doing and has said it is doing. Agree with it or not, this didn’t come out of nowhere as commentators are suggesting. The media’s focus on this and the commentary provided shows how little the media really understands asylum policy and distorts the debate.

  2. Simon Roberts

    Someone else who has no clue on how to “stop the boats”.The Only way that people will stop coming is if boats are turned back. But this cannot be done as Indonesia will not allow it. All of this tinkering is just that.

  3. Musrum

    > Of course, had the Greens not opposed the government’s legislation to enable the Malaysian policy

    Wasn’t it a private member’s bill from Windsor?

  4. Jimmy

    This issue is one in which I struggle tofind the right policy, I was strongly opposed to offshore processing but having seen the number of deaths at sea of people trying to reach our shores I find it hard to support onshore processing if that is the result.
    The Houston report while recommending policies I have preciously found questionable does result in Australia dramatically increasing it’s refugee intake and that alone merits it’s implementation in full to at least see if it is successful.
    However I fear the Opposition will support all the sticks, none of the carrot’s and not the Malaysia deal and with the Greens holding out for only on shore processing we could be left with something undesirable and ineffective.

    I look forward to Shepherd Marilyn’s abuse.

  5. James Dean

    I don’t know if anyone’s really summed it up before, but the goal I see for border protection policy should be to stop people getting on boats. Not to prevent them from getting here, but to prevent them from exposing themselves to the risks of the journey. The problem is that there’s nothing that will stop them from using a boat if there’s any advantage in doing so, whatever the risks are. If they see it as their only choice, and they do, no risk and no punishment is enough.

    The only thing we can do is remove the reward at the end.

    I haven’t completely absorbed all of this policy yet, but what I understand sounds right. No right morally, necessarily, but perhaps the only choice.

  6. Jimmy

    Simon Roberts – “The Only way that people will stop coming is if boats are turned back.” The only way people will stop coming is if conditions in their own country improve dramtically.
    Turning back the boats is a short sighted idea that does nothing to address the underlying issues and only offends our regional partners who see it (rightly) as us shirking our responsibilities and forcing them to do all the work.

  7. Jimmy

    Simon Roberts – “The Only way that people will stop coming is if boats are turned back.” The only way people will stop coming is if conditions in their own country improve dramtically.
    Turning back the boats is a short sighted idea that does nothing to address the underl ying issues and only offends our regional partners who see it (rightly) as us shirking our responsibilities and forcing them to do all the work.

  8. Robert Merkel

    Yes, the policy isn’t a surprise.

    It’s still a cynical and mendacious further extension of our attempts to evade the responsibilities we signed up for in the UN Refugee Convention.

    If we want to get out of the Refugee Convention, fine. Let the government and opposition do so. But the current situation where we continue to proclaim that we are living up to our international responsibilities, while systematically not doing so in practice, is hypocrisy of the highest order.

  9. Sean

    So what happens when the boats still don’t stop?

  10. Jimmy

    RObert Merkel – “It’s still a cynical and mendacious further extension of our attempts to evade the responsibilities we signed up for in the UN Refugee Convention.” Did you read the article?
    “Third is the claim that it somehow abrogates our responsibilities under the UN Refugee Convention. In fact the UNHCR itself, in a media release yesterday criticising the government’s bill, specifically rejected this:

    “UNHCR’s longstanding view is that under international law any excision of territory for a specific purpose has no bearing on the obligation of a country to abide by its international treaty obligations which apply to all of its territory. This includes the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a party.”

    Sean – “So what happens when the boats still don’t stop?” They implement the rest of the Houston report recommendations, if they still don’t stop then they will have to try something else but at least they will have tried.

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