The Greens have this morning moved an amendment in the Senate calling on the Government to take immediate action to save lives, including
- increasing Australia's humanitarian intake to 20,000 a year and resettling 1,000 people from Indonesia and 4,000 people from Malaysia;
- immediately increasing funding to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees by $10 million to boost the capacity to assess asylum applications;
- codify and abide by our obligations to provide safety of life at sea; and
- immediately establish a multi-party committee to develop a fair, safe and legal regional framework and enter discussions with the Indonesian Government.
We can save lives starting today if we make that our priority, rather than punishing desperate asylum seekers who have already arrived in Australia by dumping them out of sight out of mind in unsafe circumstances," said Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne.
"If we announced today that we would take several thousand people from Indonesia and Malaysia, and gave a clear commitment that we will give them a safer pathway to a better life, there would immediately be far less pressure to get onto boats and risk their lives.
"Unfortunately, what we have before us is something that makes the situation worse. This is a sleight of hand, a quick fix to look like we are doing something when we are putting people in further danger.
"When there are over 8,000 desperate asylum seekers in Indonesia, only two people to process them, and Australia takes only 60 a year, how can they have hope? The so-called 'queue' is 76 years long.
"Our amendments would give them hope, and the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader can agree to move forward with this action to save lives and help people immediately, without legislation."
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Immigration, said the amendments have been hammered out following discussions with refugee and humanitarian experts in the region.
"The Oakeshott Bill does not save lives - it further endangers them. We've seen in the past that regional solutions do work, whereas casting people off-shore into further danger so they are forced to keep running does not. The Siev X disaster happened after the government established the Pacific 'Solution'"
"What we should be doing is bolstering protection, not undermining it, and not casting people back into danger in the pretence of acting in their best interests.
"The Greens have offered up practical and immediate actions for creating safe pathways that can be put into place today, while also strengthening our platform for establishing a long-term, humane regional solution.
"Australia must show leadership and work closely with our regional neighbours to solve a regional challenge. The Greens are ready to help the government do that today."
Full amendment is here.