Media Release

Monday, 19th December, 2011

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has repeated its call for both sides to stop playing politics with the refugee issue and break the criminal business plan to deter this illegal and immoral industry.

“This is an unconscionable situation where people are dying because we have our two political leaders in a face off for political advantage”, said Managing Director Jim Wallace.

“Deterrence must be a strong part of our response to this, if these disasters are to be averted, and that means making it unattractive for people to attempt this.

“The Malaysian solution is an attempt to address this, and whether we institute it or not, 95,000 mainly genuine refugees will continue to languish in camps there.

“If we take the initiative to focus our refugee intake on these and other existing camps and make that known, we will reduce, if not stop, this carnage,” he said.

Mr Wallace said the ACL has investigated the Malaysian solution with both sides of politics and has determined that, as there is no perfect solution, this would at least give the best known chance of breaking the criminal business model, which is clearly causing these deaths.

He said at the same time a joint approach by both parties must be able to see the situation of refugees there improved.

“We simply have to realise that returning illegal immigrants to be processed offshore is necessary in this imperfect world we live in,” said Mr Wallace.

“It is not enough that well meaning people hide behind a false morality blindly pursuing onshore processing, while they ignore the reality of the tragedy of these deaths and the role of criminals in it.

“We simply have to deter this industry, but at the same time focus on where we know there is a real and proven need. Malaysian camps are one of those places, as are camps in the Middle East and India, where an increasing number of people, particularly Christians, are refugees of religious persecution, and are living in fear of their lives.

“Both parties have a lot to answer for the current situation and indeed this tragedy - Labor for playing politics with this in 2007 and the Coalition for playing it for political advantage now – it is time for both to work out a joint response to this problem and implement it quickly.

“The reality is that we need to go to where the refugees are and let it be known that that is where we take refugees, not through Indonesian criminals,” said Mr Wallace.