1. The Greens could have scuttled the re-opening of camps on Manus and Nauru but didn’t
It wasn’t an Abbott government that introduced the most retrograde policy on refugees in a decade. A policy so appalling even the Howard government was eventually forced to wind it down when faced with a revolt from the liberal wing of his own back bench. Oh no.
Julia Gillard and Labor re-opened the camps on Nauru and Manus Island, and they did so with the support of the Greens.
In 2001 Bob Brown proclaimed that the Greens were not a single issue party and took the Greens into bat on the issue of refugees. It was why in 2001, as a fourteen year old, I got involved. But when push came to shove in 2013, when the Greens precious hold on the balance of power finally gave them the chance to walk the talk, they utterly failed.
The new round of crimes on Nauru and Manus Island are only possible due to Greens weakness. They were not even prepared to push.
2. The Greens support mandatory detention
The Greens favour the mandatory detention of refugees. Including children. Perhaps indefinitely. Oh they mouth a few platitudes like “refugees to live in the community as soon as possible”, but will they close down Australia’s system of barbaric prison camps? No, they will:
“Establish 30 day time limits of detention so initial health, security and ID checks can be done, and periodic judicial review of any detention thereafter” – Greens.org.au “Caring for Refugees in Our Community”.
As Nazeem Hussain explains:
The Greens know a ’30 day cap’ for security checks is little more than a sentiment. You can’t rush ASIO, they take as long as they like ‘need’. 40 Sri Lankans and an Iranian have been waiting in detention for ASIO clearance, some waiting up to 4 YEARS!
Under Greens policy, after 30 days – will they just release detainees even with no security clearance?? Why detain them in the first place if security checks aren’t actually imperative?!
NZ only detains ppl for 7 days for health checks and performs security checks in the community. Noone complains.
It’s not a crime to seek asylum, yet the Greens policy will imprison refugees, including children, perhaps indefinitely.
3. The Greens consider the standards of at least some detention centres acceptable
Before you delude yourself into thinking that The Greens mandatory detention camps will be nicer than Abbotts or Rudds, consider this:
“The Greens … will … close down the worst Australian detention centres on the mainland and on Christmas Island.”
As far as the Greens are concerned, only “the worst” of the camps are the problem. At least some of the camps that now exist are acceptable.
I ask, will the Greens nominate which of the camps in the Australian gulags will the Greens not close down? If Nauru is unacceptable, what about that nice new camp on Christmas Island? Or if that’s no good, what about that centre of fun and games in Broadmeadows? It’s compartively low security, refugees only occasionally try and starve themselves to death in order to get out.
4. The Greens support a “Malaysia” style “solution”
Instead of defending the absolute right of people to seek asylum from persecution, the Greens “Safer Pathways” policy accepts the absurd concept of a “queue” and proposes a “Malaysia” style “solution”.
The Greens policy document The Right Way Foward on Refugees even quotes the absurd Houston Panel in support of it’s policy, the same “expert panel” the Gillard government established as cover to reintroduce the camps on Nauru and Manus Island.
The key points the Greens highlight in their document include:
Increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to 30,000 … including resettling at least 3,800 directly from our immediate region, including from Indonesia, as recomended by the Houston Panel.
This statement accepts the false logic of a queue, that people should somehow have to wait for permission to exersize their fundamental rights. It accepts the absurd notion that Australia should set limits on the number of people somehow allowed to seek asylum here, as if a rich country like Australia should be able to say “wait, no, you might have an absolute right to seek asylum but we’ll pick and choose”.
Their document also talks about “regional processing” in Indonesia. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, under the Greens Australia would still outsource it’s international obligations.
This policy from the Greens treats asylum like a charitable jesture, as if refugees do not have absolute rights, and our racist government can just meet part of it’s obligations, in small amounts, when it feels like it.
5. The Greens wont even close Nauru and Manus Island
The Greens have already conceded on Nauru and Manus Island. It is clear they were not prepared to take the Gillard government to task over it’s treatment on refugees, and they wont make the closure of Manus Island and Nauru conditions for forming government after the next election.
They have a whole policy that accepts that Manus Island and Nauru detention camps wont close. Instead, they propose a laughable figleaf, an Independent Health Advisory Panel.
“The Australian Greens want to put a stop to offshore detention altogether. But whilst it is in place, Australia remains responsible for looking after the health and wellbeing of refugees we send to detention camps. There must be special oversight of the impacts of indefinite detention on these already traumatised people.”
That’s right, The Greens won’t actually stop the barbaric treatment of refugees, they’ve clearly signalled that with this policy. Instead they’re prepared to accept some totally meaningful oversight, so we can watch and wait for the inevitable result of barbaric and inhumane treatment.
Consider the tone of all of these documents. The Greens care. They Greens want to look after these poor traumatised people. The Greens don’t seem to accept that refugees are people with agency, fighting for their lives, who we have to stand with shoulder to shoulder.The alternative…
It’s time to stop placing our faith in the great Green hope.
In a recent Facebook exchange, Victorian Greens party figure and psephologist Stephen Luntz justified his party’s drift to the right on the grounds that he hasn’t heard criticism from the refugee movement and support campaign:
If they’ve got criticisms of our policy point me to them, but so far all I have encountered is people from both categories asking me where they can sign up to campaign.
The Greens are in the process of mainstreaming. They assume the million or so Australians on the left are locked in, and they are on the move rightwards in pursuit of what Greg Barber used to describe as “the next ten percent”.
If you think voting is enough, if you think the Greens are enough, you are sadly mistaken.
We need to tell the Greens they’re not bloody good enough. They take your $2.10 for granted.
We need to build a refugee movement that stands in solidarity with refugees, that absolutely defends the right to seek and enjoy asylum:
“This is an important issue because there is a long history of workers who support unions being persecuted because of their belief in standing up for workers’ rights.
“There are still many countries where working for a union or being part of a union can place workers in danger. We believe it is important these people, like all people fleeing for their safety, have the right to ask Australia for safety. We believe it’s Australia’s responsibility to treat these people fairly. – Victorian Trades Hall Council