06 January 2012

Australian immigration authorities would be ‘better served helping asylum seekers’

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Australia’s current embroilment in a seemingly never ending battle with asylum seekers arriving from certain source countries has prompted calls for the country's immigration department to re-evaluate its stance.

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Critics have said the Australian government may be too concerned with their own borders.

The debate on current Australian immigration policies is typically limited to how best to control and police the borders. Whether it is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's doomed Malaysia Solution which involved a people swap with Malaysia or setting up offshore processing centres, there seems to be little debate on how best to address the problem at its source.

Australia has made efforts in the past to reduce the likelihood potential asylum seekers might feel the need to flee their own countries; Australia played a key role during political turmoil in Cambodia as well as taking part in essential UN peacekeeping missions, but some critics have claimed these times are over.

The emphasis now seems to be on simply intercepting asylum seekers rather than addressing the issues which led them to seek asylum on Australian shores in the first place. Enforcing solely self concerned laws is expensive business with funds being constantly need for ocean patrols, detention centres, aircraft charters to ferry detainees back and forth etc., which has prompted some analysts to urge the Australian government to divert some of the money to helping citizens of oppressed regimes and nations such as those in Iran or Burma.

While Australia's involvement in the ongoing situation in Afghanistan may have persuaded the government to focus solely on their own problems, there are many that would say that spending more of the swelling foreign aid budget in unstable areas could help Australia just as much as it would the fund's recipients.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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