A former federal human rights commissioner yesterday condemned the “Malaysian solution”, with both houses of parliament set to vote to do the same to Julia Gillard’s asylum seeker swap.
Sev Ozdowski said shipping 800 asylum seekers to a country that canes immigrants and is not a signatory to conventions on refugees or against torture was “wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong”.
He said former prime minister John Howard’s Pacific Solution with offshore processing in Nauru was more humane: “Malaysia has a very bad human rights record and Malaysia is not signatory to a refugee convention.
“With Nauru, we could put the conditions, we were responsible for their accommodation, their food, we were responsible for access to medical services and also our immigration officials were looking to find a place for them, if not Australia another country.”
Greens MP Adam Bandt is due to introduce a notice of motion in the House of Representatives on Monday condemning the deal and calling on the prime minister to call it off. Bandt opposed the Pacific Solution before he entered parliament.
The motion has already passed the Senate and is likely to get a majority in the House of Representatives and would be the first time Julia Gillard’s minority government has lost a vote on a motion condemning government policy.
Ozdowski said he feared asylum seekers could be caned or face other human rights abuses. The Australian government would struggle to police the treatment in a country with almost 100,000 refugees already living in squalid detention camps.
“It will be extremely difficult to establish full support systems for dealing with asylum seekers from Australia.”-by Gemma Jones