JOHN MENADUE. What our next Prime Minister should do on asylum seekers.

The following is a repost from 22 June 2016 – before the recent election.

After the election, our new Prime Minister should arrange an urgent meeting with the leaders of the three other major parties to negotiate a sensible and humanitarian response on asylum issues that have been avoided in the election campaign. At that meeting the new Prime Minister should make it clear that compromise will be required and that at least metaphorically, no-one should leave the meeting until there is an agreed response.

The new Prime Minister should put to the other three leaders, the following .

First, bring the 2,000 asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru to Australia for immediate processing. Subject to checks, they should live in the community while this processing occurs.

Secondly, beef up Operation Sovereign Borders as necessary to ensure that there are no further boat arrivals. Diplomatic discussions with Indonesia will be essential.

Thirdly, an increase in the humanitarian program to 20,000 per year, within the next two years.

Fourthly, a major diplomatic effort in the region in association with regional countries and UNHCR to negotiate and implement a regional framework of burden-sharing to manage forced migration and refugee flows in our region.

The suggested compromise policy package is based on several assumptions.

The first is that most Australians believe that the cruelty inflicted on people in Nauru and Manus is unsustainable and morally indefensible.

Second, evidence clearly suggests that Australians will respond to an increase in the refugee intake, provided the government is seen to be in control our borders and that the refugee intake is managed by the Australian government.

Thirdly, major parties will need to accept that given the divisive debate in the past each must compromise if a humanitarian and sensible outcome is to be achieved for the future. Hopefully we could then see the beginning of bipartisan and multi-party support for refugee policies that will bring healing to many people that we are punishing, and restore Australia’s reputation as a generous receiver of refugees.


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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6 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. What our next Prime Minister should do on asylum seekers.

  1. John Menadue was crucial in helping to shape the Fraser government’s immigration program and bringing an end to the White Australia policy.

  2. Avatar Helen Kindt says:

    Instead of the govt TELLING us, why aren’t they asking the people what THEY WANT. Thought we were a democracy not a dictatorship. Time for people power. Sickening the way our minds have been tampered with.

  3. I congratulate you on suggesting a workable, humane plan. I just hope that following the election whoever wins will take up your suggestions or something like them. Prof Frank Brennan made similar suggestions in a recent address delivered in Port Macquarie. Sadly, I am not overly optimistic, but there is no harm hoping. It is simply not reasonable to leave people in the limbo that is Nauru and Manus, as shown in the recent ACA program. To me the most obvious message in the ACA was the profound sense of hopelessness experienced by those on Nauru, even though they are now free to move around Nauru.

  4. Avatar John Challis says:

    Congratulations John ! a brilliant, workable plan.
    Lets get as many people as possible to write top the party leaders
    supporting it. We won’t take no for an answer.

  5. Yehbut it’s not going to happen, is it? Turnbull will win the coming election, and he’s not going to look for bi-lateral arrangements because Labor is essentially on the same page anyway, and that leaves the Greens objecting to boat turnbacks which is what you are suggesting in beefing up Operation Sovereign Borders. The over-arching factor no one mentions in any explicit way is that security in the Indian Ocean, Malacca Strait and Coral Sea is our chief concern and that of our major ally, the United States. That means no bi-lateral deals with Indonesia or Malaysia like Fraser managed to get in the good old days – the potato is far too hot to handle now.

  6. Avatar Milton Moon says:

    If we care about Live Animal Exports, (and some of us do) the suggestions above by John Menadue can’t be ignored. In the name of decency let us show the world we are better than the way we treat
    cattle. Thank you John Menadue.
    Milton Moon

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