Monday, January 19, 2004

Sock Thief has responded to my suggestion that the tide may be turning wrt Australia's refugee policy and suggested that it may not be turning in the way I think.

For those on Nauru and for children currently detained out in the desert, this move would represent a huge improvement in their circumstances... there are currently 284 detainees on Nauru including 93 children some of whom have been detained there (the conditions they face there are pretty well known) for more than two years without any prospect of release or judicial review. There are a similar number of children detained in camps within mainland Australia. This part of Labour's announcement by itself represents a shift back towards being a civilised country.

The main problem for the Australians is that the refugees are clogging up their court system with 80% of their high court cases being ones relating to refugees. True, Labour has not indicated whether they plan to resource the courts more appropriately or whether they plan to limit the ability of refugees to make appeals, but given the pressure coming from within the Labour party for an even more liberal (and I don't mean in the John Howard sense of the word) approach I can't see them getting away with limiting access to justice... we'll just have to wait and see if my excitement has been premature.