Where do the parties stand on asylum seeker policies?

9 May 2019

Interested in Asylum Seekers issues and wondering where to send your preferences?

This question led the NSWCCL Asylum Seekers Group to send the same five questions to all parties standing for NSW Senate Seats. The questions were:

  1. How will you support the implementation of the Medivac Bill to provide medical assistance to sick and injured Men currently in detention on Manus and Nauru?
  2. New Zealand had offered to settle up to 150 refugees currently in off shore detention. Will your party accept this offer? Why or Why not?
  3. Reports have been made of Australian Border Force Officers approaching single women travelling from Saudi Arabia. These women are then questioned about the whereabouts of their guardians under Saudi law. Do you agree or disagree with Australian Officers implementing Saudi law in our airports?
  4. At present it is easier to visit a prisoner in gaol than in immigration detention. What is your opinion on the strict rules placed on visitors to on shore detention centres such as Villawood.
  5. By reducing access to the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) in the second half of 2018, the Federal Government left many refugees without the support they needed to be able to access basics such as housing and food while they are settling into Australia. What plans do you have to support refugees as they strive to become part of our society?

We received no responses from the Labor, Liberal or National Parties as well as any other minor parties not mentioned below.

Some parties, Greens, Australian Democrats, Science Party and the Australian Workers Party returned detailed answers to the questions. To provide a couple of points from each:


The Greens sponsored the Medivac amendment to the Home Affairs Bill that created the process to allow sick refugees and people seeking asylum, on medical advice from two or more treating doctors, to be transferred from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for medical treatment. We fully support those currently detained in Australia's offshore detention regime being able to receive urgent medical treatment in Australia.

It is Australian Greens policy to restore Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) payments, and increase them to the same rate as Newstart to ensure all recent arrivals can fully participate and integrate with Australian communities. Cutting this program has crippled refugees and asylum seekers living in the community with poverty, and shifted costs from the government to already struggling charity, community, and health sectors.

Australian Democrats:

I don’t support offshore processing or detention of asylum seekers regardless of how they arrive in Australia.  I support the Medivac/Medevac Bill and will seek to ensure offshore detention is phased out completely.  It is not a crime to seek asylum so people should be afforded respect and within a framework an amount of liberty. There is no point in agreeing to resettle refugees or run any kind of immigration strategy if it is not paired with a funded integration and settlement strategy.

Science Party:

The Science Party has secularism as one of it's principles, and strongly disagrees with religious law from other countries being implemented in our country.

We are planning for a larger Australia, with migration in the form of refugee resettlement, and skilled migration. We will ensure adequate housing and infrastructure is in place to support the intakes from all migration streams.

Australian Workers Party:

If elected they will support the implementation by publicly raising it  (Medivac bill) through Parliamentary processes and through the media, community groups and through our social media activities.

In reference to visitors to immigration detention: The strict rules are in place simply to deter advocates and to disempower the detainees and advocates.  As a party, we do not support the poor treatment and demonisation of refugees. The attitude of successive Australian governments has been shameful.

Others were broadly supportive and linked the issues to that of their party’s core beliefs.

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) will act upon its core principles of Kindness, Equality, Rationality and Non-Violence, by responding to the suffering of those persons who are forced to leave their countries of origin as a result of displacement by war, genocide, breakdown of public order or a well-founded fear of persecution based on unlawful discrimination.

The Democratic Labour Party was supportive:

It is our policy to always maintain human dignity which includes the way we treat asylum seekers and People who are currently blocked in detention centres should be able to be immediately be transferred to the mainland .

They did have some caveats:Our aim is to keep proportional immigration as that is a healthy development within societies; and  Dignity should always be maintained while at the same time we take in a fair proportion of the refugees who arrive in our region with an index based on GDP compared to that of neighbouring countries.

The Citizen’s Electoral Council believes in the sanctity of life, and the creative potential of all human beings.  They  oppose the way successive governments have treated refugees, and agree in principle with your points and then link the actions of western governments in ‘regime change’ as a cause of the problem.

Some parties provided brief responses such as the HEMP party which has no set policies on issues not related to cannabis prohibition and the Climate Action! Immigration Action! Accountable Politicians! Party (previously Online Direct Democracy Party) who have no set policies and intend to follow the instructions of Australians at the time.

To read all responses in detail go to this link.