Progress towards saving lives can be made
The constructive contribution of Julian Burnside this morning, proposing saving lives by supporting true and well-resourced regional assessment of people seeking asylum, is what the Greens have proposed and points the way to a long-lasting, humanitarian resolution to this tragedy.
Despite the parliamentary stalemate, there are actions that can be taken immediately, which all parties can support, including dramatically increasing the number of people we take from Indonesia and Malaysia and the funding for United Nations operations in those countries, establishing a genuine multi-party process towards delivering an outcome, and increasing search and rescue capacity.
Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said "There is so much that can be done immediately, without the need for legislation, to save the lives of these desperate people who see no hope unless they risk getting onto dangerous boats, but simply deporting them out of sight and out of mind will not save lives.
"Julian Burnside's contribution this morning, proposing well-resourced regional assessment of people seeking asylum, is the direction we need to go and is what I put to the Prime Minister and the Parliament. With all parties now on the recording supporting this, surely the Government can and should move ahead with this immediately to take the pressure off people to get on boats and risk their lives.
"As Judi Moylan has also said, I believe that trying to force a bad bill before the parliament without making a real effort to negotiate first was a mistake. I have every hope that now we can all move forward with good faith discussions to find a better way to save lives and help these desperate people."
Senator Hanson-Young said "Offshore processing means deporting people who have struggled so hard and made it to Australian territory. It is crude and cruel, it is illegal under international law and, as was shown under John Howard's harsh regime, it will not save lives.
"Julian Burnside is only the latest expert and advocate to support what the Greens have been saying - that the way to save lives is to make sure we take the pressure off the lives of these people in limbo in Malaysia and Indonesia by welcoming thousands more to Australia and giving the UNHCR the resources it needs to protect people across the region.
"True, fair and legal regional assessment and resettlement of asylum seekers will save lives."
Labor for Refugees yesterday backed the Greens and criticised the ALP: http://www.facebook.com/labor4refugees/posts/327067277379352
Other groups supporting the Greens' proposed action include:
Amnesty International - http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/29104/
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre - http://www.asrc.org.au/media/documents/media-release-time-bring-back-debate.pdf
Refugee Council of Australia - http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/n/media/120628_Parlt_Bill.pdf