MP Janelle Saffin.
MP Janelle Saffin.

Saffin disagrees with PM

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has broken ranks with the Labor Government, saying she believes asylum seekers should be processed within Australia.

Ms Saffin said the ALP's party platform supports onshore processing, although the Federal Government is still pushing for a processing centre in Malaysia despite a recent high court decision ruling it out.

"Very small numbers come here. My view is we should hold them in community detention and process them onshore," Ms Saffin told The Northern Star.

"That's what I say when I am representing the Page electorate in Parliament."

Ms Saffin said Amnesty International, of which she is a long-term and active member, had calculated that at the rate asylum seekers come to Australia in boats, it would take 30 years to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"Fewer asylum seekers come by boat than come by plane and overstay their visas, then apply for asylum. But those who fly in have at least had health and security checks. We have to do those checks before we can process boat arrivals."

Ms Saffin said most asylum seekers were fleeing political persecution, and have been living in circumstances that most of us could not comprehend.

"Calling them boat people has a derogatory connotation," she said.

"People think seeking asylum is a criminal act, but it's not.

"If we were led by our better souls, we'd make better decisions, but that would require a bi-partisan approach and I don't see that happening."

Ms Saffin, who has visited detention centres onshore and on Christmas Island, believes refugees should be given humanitarian visas, and can see a time ahead when there will be many more refugees from the effects of climate change, particularly from our own region where small island nations are facing being swamped by rising sealevels.

"There should be more and better medical services, especially for mental health, avail- able in all our centres," she said.

"People need tender loving care.

"I'm aware the people of my electorate expect me to speak up, and speak out on issues that concern them. It's not just asylum seekers; the biggest issues recently have been the live export trade, and health care, especially for people with mental ill-health and disability issues.

"People - and remember my electorate covers five local government areas - want to know that I'll put forward their views in Parliament. And I do".

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