Media Release

For release: Monday July 25, 2011

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Australian Government’s asylum seeker swap arrangement announced today.

“This agreement means Australia will be more generous with its humanitarian intake, give priority to people already assessed as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees but who don’t have the money to pay a people smuggler, and discourages the activities of criminal people smugglers,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said today.

Mr Wallace welcomed assurances by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that those returned to Malaysia would have their welfare monitored by an oversight committee that would include representatives from the UNHCR.

“However, the welfare of these people once returned to Malaysia will require continued monitoring by Australian officials to ensure that the Australian community’s expectations of humane treatment is met.”

Mr Wallace said that nonetheless it was disappointing that the people smuggling trade had re-started when all that was needed was some fine-tuning of aspects the Howard Government’s successful anti-people smuggling policies to make them fairer and more compassionate.