Canberra 20 September 2016
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has been challenged by refugee activists over the accuracy of his speech at the refugee summit in New York. Mr Turnbull argued that other countries should follow Australia’s tough border protection policies and that Australia was generous to refugees.
But Dr John Minns of Canberra’s Refugee Action Committee said that the speech was factually incorrect and deliberately designed to mislead both the Australian public and the international community.
“Mr Turnbull claims that Australia is the third most generous country in the world in taking refugees. But this ranking can only be obtained by a trick – of counting the numbers finally resettled. Last year, Australia resettled just 11,776 people. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, of those we recognised, registered or resettled – considered the truest way of determining generosity to refugees – Australia was ranked 25th overall, 32nd per capita and 47th compared to our GDP. Those we take compared to the total refuges under the UNHCR mandate puts us 81st in the world on a GDP basis– hardly something of which we can be proud.”
Dr Minns said that for Australia to boast of its performance in the case of the refugee crisis was embarrassing.
“Australia took fewer than 12,000 in 2015 while a much poorer country such as Turkey has over two and a half million, Pakistan has around one and a half million and Lebanon and Iran have around one million each.”
Moreover, according to Dr Minns, if Europe were to copy Australia’s policies it would be a major humanitarian disaster.
“In what poor country would Europe set up its offshore detention camps – the equivalents of Nauru and Manus Island? The trauma suffered by refugees and now well-documented would be replicated a thousand times. In following Australia would Europe permanently bar the millions in Turkey from ever setting foot in Europe – as Australia has done to those refugees waiting in limbo in Indonesia? To do this would consign huge numbers to squalid camps without work or services for life.”
“Millions of Australians disagree with Australia’s refugee policies and we say to Europe and the rest of the world, do not follow us.”
RAC spokesperson Dr John Minns is available for comment on 0407 483 952.