Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Age - Greg Egan

"As a refugee advocate who has been in contact with dozens of detainees for the past 2½ years, I don't doubt the assertion by Labor's new immigration spokesman, Laurie Ferguson, that a proportion of asylum seekers make false claims (The Age, 28/10). In any system where there's a benefit, some claims will be false, and this is true for everything from Centrelink to specialists rorting Medicare.

What I also don't doubt, though, is that dozens of people have been detained for four, five and six years who have been entirely honest and deserving in their asylum claims but have suffered from poor decision-making.

I do not advocate that asylum claims are not checked. I advocate that they are checked competently, with all the care required to ensure that no genuine claimants have their lives ruined by a bad decision. In recent months, more than 60 long-term detainees have been found to be refugees. Whatever cost the Australian community has borne because some false refugee claims have succeeded, there has been far greater damage done to long-term detainees whose claims are genuine.

If the quality of immigration decisions was improved, the numbers of false claims accepted and genuine claims refused would be reduced.

Greg Egan, Tuart Hill, WA"

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