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With the stroke of a pen the Federal Government recently condemned Australia to continue the offshore processing of asylum seekers, when it signed a new agreement with Nauru to, and I quote, establish an enduring regional processing capability, end of quote. No wonder then the world considers us a pariah when it comes to asylum seekers, because frankly this latest decision is cruelty on steroids and a missed opportunity for a deep policy reset.

The so called Biloela family in particular has become the human face of Australia’s cruel and illegal asylum seeker policy. This Sri Lankan family is stranded in community detention, in Perth, because no visa has been granted to the youngest daughter, Australian-born Tharnicaa, meaning none of the family can return to Biloela, the Queensland town ready to welcome their return with open arms. Moreover this latest bureaucratic torture follows years in detention, including a stint on Christmas Island, that only ended when Tharnicaa was evacuated suffering a severe blood infection.   

But importantly the outpouring of compassion Australia has shown this family shows that the public actually wants a different approach to asylum seekers. And to that end I’ve proposed an alternative Asia-Pacific regional response to quickly, humanely, legally and affordably resettle those seeking help. But shamefully both Liberal and Labor continue to block this initiative, and that’s simply not good enough.