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Can Shorten Change Labor’s Course for Asylum Seekers?

May 28, 2016

Bill Shorten is stuck in a rut. When Abbott in opposition proposed we Stop the boats, Labor matched his proposed brutality in a desperate attempt to survive.

Now Shorten is faced with dissatisfaction from two directions:

Boat fearful voters not trusting Bill’s resolve to keep the boats away;

And disgust by voters who think he should stop sucking up to the extreme right and should bring asylum seekers to the mainland.

After watching the most excellent film currently screening: Chasing Asylum, I wondered what political force could make a difference while our two major parties are so dug into their positions?

My conclusion? The guy stuck in the middle needs to make change. Bill Shorten is in a unique position to push Australia out of our rut of cruelty.

That’s right; it’s not Shorten’s rut, it’s Australia’s rut. Shorten is stuck in the middle and can either do nothing and lose from both directions, or he can make changes and drag Labor and Australia back to dealing with asylum seekers humanely.

To achieve this, Bill Shorten needs to make significant changes so I have listed a number of demands to Bill, if he wants to do the right thing and gain votes at the same time, please meet my following demands.

These demands are TOTALLY doable for ALP in the current political climate.


  • That Shorten promises to differentiate Labor from L/NP by removing secrecy clauses from detention centres and allowing journalists to visit without any notice and with their visas paid for by government.
  • That Shorten does a one off bulk transfer of all current detainees to Australia for processing, since they have been mistreated and need to be removed from harm.
  • That all new detainees are treated more humanely, which will be much easier and much cheaper with a fresh start and no existing detainees.
  • That Shorten makes moves to turn proper treatment of asylum seekers as a bi-partisan issue so that the race to the bottom doesn’t continue to worsen.
  • That Shorten doesn’t simply “match” LNP’s cruelty towards treatment to provide a deterrent to future arrivals.
  • To separate the “you will never reach Australia” policy away from cruelty to asylum seekers, because cruelty isn’t necessary for that policy to exist.
  • To increase the intake of asylum seekers (Labor already promised this to almost a satisfactory level. Greens have promised many more but too much for general acceptance).

Turnbull if you read this, don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon and go bi-partisan!

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