Media Release: Thursday, 28th June, 2012: Asylum seekers vote must be the art of the possible

Media Release:  Thursday, 28th June, 2012

Asylum seekers vote must be the art of the possible

With the House of Representatives having passed Rob Oakeshott’s bill on offshore processing of asylum seekers, the Australian Democrats are calling for the major parties to allow a conscience vote on the bill when it is debated in the Senate today.

Democrats National President, Darren Churchill, says that although the Democrats do not support offshore processing, there must be a circuit breaker to prevent more drownings of desperate people seeking political asylum in Australia.

“If the major parties will not grant a conscience vote then we call on fair-minded people in the Liberal Party to use the conscience vote that their party theoretically says they are entitled to.

“While agreeing with The Greens on the need to observe our responsibilities under international law, their position makes no difference with the Government and Opposition both wanting offshore processing.

“The hardline position of The Greens will not make any difference in this current debate. They will apparently sink the bill, and in so doing allow the sinking of more boats.  Nothing will have been achieved.

“This is why the Democrats are needed back in Australia’s parliaments: we have always understood that a small percentage of something is better than 100% of nothing.

“Let’s get something in place as a stopgap measure, and work in the long term towards upholding Australia’s humanitarian obligations” said Mr Churchill.

DARREN CHURCHILL

National President

darren.churchill@democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473

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