Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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The Politics of Australian Asylum and Border Policy: Escaping the Duelling Paradigms

By Jonathan Kent, University of Toronto

The Abbott government’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy appears to have stopped irregular maritime arrivals to Australia. In the first six months of 2013 (under Labor), 13,108 individuals arrived by boat, while during the first half of 2014 (under the Abbott Coalition Government) there were no boat arrivals.

The Government justifies its tough border policy using the humane and noble logic that it prevents people from dying at sea and puts an end to the exploitation of desperate souls by people smugglers. Whatever the figures on arrivals are, it is far more difficult to estimate the number of individuals who no longer have a viable pathway to a ‘durable solution’ now that Australia has shut the door. Though the current policy meets its most practical objective of ‘stopping the boats’, it is neither a stable nor a viable longterm policy. Continue Reading →