Monday, 13th August, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Independent expert panel’s recommendations on asylum seekers, as reported in Angus Houston’s briefing to the press.

The ACL’s Managing Director Jim Wallace said the recommendations strikes the right balance between compassion and the need to end the people smuggler’s trade.

“The ACL welcome’s the panel’s advice to process refugees on Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island and to continue to develop the Malaysian solution as a pilot model for a regional solution, provided, necessary protections can be ensured,” he said.

Mr Wallace said the committee’s recommendations on increasing the refugee intake to 20,000 immediately is a sensible idea, which is Labor policy and has been considered by the Coalition.

“The ACL has long advocated that Australia raise its humanitarian intake and that that be sourced from refugee camps, which would send a clear message that those in most need, the UNHCR-designated refugees, will be treated with real priority and generosity,” he said.

Mr Wallace said it was imperative for the Parliament to act on these recommendations and condemned the Greens for continuing to demand onshore processing when it clearly provides the magnet that sustains the dangerous people smuggling industry.

“It’s time for all parties to use this opportunity for genuine reform by government - too many people have died between Indonesia and Christmas Island for the political impasse over asylum seeker policy to be allowed to continue any longer,” he said.