Sunday, October 09, 2011



State Conference calls on the Federal Labor Government to uphold our platform and values by abandoning the current fixation with offshore ‘solutions’ and establishing a just and humane approach for people seeking asylum. The High Court’s recent ruling on the Malaysia solution presented a definitive turning point in the way we treat people seeking asylum in Australia. Federal Labor must respect the decision of the High Court and act consistently with the principles established in that decision.

Conference believes that the only humane and effective deterrent to the secondary movement of people is to ensure individuals have access to protection in countries of first asylum and transit. This will require the establishment of a multi-lateral regional protection framework under which countries of first asylum and transit countries in our region provide protection, support and settlement to people fleeing from terror and persecution. Punitive measures, be they indefinite detention in Australia or removal of people to offshore processing are neither humane nor likely to act as an effective deterrent.

As a country, we must adopt just and humane policies on refugees and asylum seekers and in doing so raise the level of debate and treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Only then will Australia be able to hold its head high in the international community as a nation with a commitment to human rights and a deep appreciation of the plight of people seeking a safe haven from persecution and a better way of life.

Victorian Labor reaffirms its commitment to the National Platform which in particular;

• Commits that protection claims made in Australia will be assessed by Australians on Australian territory, and;
• Recognises that Australia has obligations to also settle refugees and asylum seekers who cannot access Australian territory.

The Victorian State Conference calls on Federal Labor to:

• Adhere to the principles of the High Court ruling. Indefinite detention and sending asylum seekers to uncertainty in other countries is inconsistent with our international obligations and is an unjust response to people fleeing persecution and in need of our protection;

• Commit that protection claims made in Australia will be assessed by Australians on Australian territory;

• Immediately rule out offshoring processing and only detain asylum seekers where there is a discernible health and security risk to the community, while ensuring the prompt processing of protection applications and that children are not detained in Immigration Detenion Centres;

• Increase our refugee and humanitarian intake in the region and honour the commitment to resettle the 4000 refugees from Malaysia;

• Pursue a regional protection framework as a matter of urgency. Conference notes the positive progress achieved through the Bali process this year towards this goal;

• Assist our regional neighbours develop their capacity to assist displaced people, including by –
a) increasing Australia's support for the UNHCR,
b) increasing our humanitarian intake, and
c) developing alternative immigration pathways to Australia for individuals seeking protection including skilled migration

Victorian Labor calls on all parliamentarians and party members to promote informed and genuine discourse on our responsibilities to people fleeing war and terror. By counteracting misinformation and spin from the Coalition we can move towards a political climate where racist fear campaigns like those driven by Tony Abbott are unable to gain traction in the community.

Conference rejects all politically motivated attempts to simplify Australia’s obligations to displaced people by unduly focusing on maritime arrivals.

Finally, Conference notes the importance of the candidates pledge and adherence to the Platform to the integrity of the democratic structures of our party. Labor Parliamentarians must adhere to the party platform. Victorian Labor looks forward to engaging in a genuine debate on Labor’s platform and policies at December's National ALP Conference.

M: Michele O'Neill
S: Zoe Edwards