THE Greens have called on the major parties to adopt the approach of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser in dealing with asylum seekers.
Greens Leader Christine Milne unveiled the party's asylum seeker policy on Wednesday, calling for a dramatic increase to Australia's humanitarian intake, increased funding to fast track the processing of refugee claims in Indonesia, and closing detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Both Labor and the Coalition will take similar asylum seeker policies to the election.
Labor has promised to send all asylum-seekers arriving by boat to PNG with no chance of ever being settled in Australia, while the Coalition this week revealed plans to build a "tent city" on Nauru to house thousands of asylum seekers who will be given "no guarantee" of ending up here.
Senator Milne said the steady flow of asylum seeker boats, and the resulting deaths at sea, were proof the government's policy of deterrence was not working.
She also claimed the Greens' policy would be dramatically cheaper than either of the major parties - both of which are extremely expensive.
Analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office found the Greens' approach would cost $2.5 billion during the next four years.
"What the Coalition and government are doing is not only hideously cruel and expensive in terms of the toll on human lives and personal happiness ... it's a very expensive policy in dollar terms," Senator Milne said.
"They are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can adopt the cruellest approach to refugees, including dumping them on our poorest neighbours.
"Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have shamed Australia both at home and abroad by turning their backs on care for refugees."
Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the party's policy was more humane and had the potential to "start saving lives immediately".
She said it was based on the policies of the Fraser government in the wake of the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
"Malcolm Fraser's strong political leadership following the Vietnam War saw untold numbers of lives saved through a humanitarian program that many Australians are still proud of to this very day," Senator Hanson-Young said.
- Increasing Australia's humanitarian intake to 30,000 - within that, resettling an emergency intake of 10,000 UNHCR assessed refugees to Australia from our region to reduce the backlog.
- Giving refugees a 'regular' path to a safer life, including resettling at least 3,800 extra directly from our immediate region as recommended by the Houston Panel.
- Providing an extra $70 million per year in emergency funding to help fast track processing of refugee claims in Indonesia, providing shelter and welfare services to refugees while they are waiting for assessment and resettlement, and boosting the capacity of the UNHCR in Indonesia and Malaysia to speed up assessment and resettlement.
- Shutting down all detention camps in Nauru and PNG, with Australia to assess the claims of people who arrive by boat.
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