Victorian Labor conference to debate ending offshore immigration processing | Australia news
The Victorian state Labor conference is to debate an urgency motion calling for an end to offshore immigration detention and the transfer of all remaining asylum seekers to the Australian mainland within 90 days.
The state conference this weekend will discuss Labor’s policy towards asylum seekers and refugees, regarded internally as front-running the debate on the hot-button issue which will play out during the ALP’s national conference in July.
An urgency motion, drafted by Labor for Refugees and seen by Guardian Australia, calls on the ALP, “when in federal government, to close offshore detention centres, transit centres and other camps on Manus and Nauru within the first 90 days, and to bring all the children, women and men who are refugees or seeking asylum remaining there to Australia”.
The preamble to the motion, drafted by the leftwinger Ilia Vurtel, and to be seconded by the independent Pauline Brown, notes that in the past few months, the courts have ordered that children be brought to Australia from Nauru because of the risk of self-harm.
It is unclear whether the motion will have the numbers at the Victorian conference, or whether it will be amended between now and the weekend debate.
The looming Victorian push follows a decision by the new Labor MP Ged Kearney to use her first speech to parliament to promise to campaign internally for a more humane policy on refugees.
Kearney – who held out the Greens in a byelection in the Melbourne seat of Batman – told parliament this week that Australia could afford to take more refugees but it could not afford “the ongoing cost to our national psyche” of subjecting asylum seekers to “shameful” indefinite detention in offshore immigration centres.
She said people now detained on Manus Island and Nauru must be permanently resettled “as a priority” but her speech did not specify whether that resettlement should be in Australia or in a third country.
It is still unclear what specific motions will be brought to the July national conference because the process of selecting delegates is not yet complete. Party sources say the agitation centres around offshore detention becoming de facto indefinite detention because of the lack of viable resettlement options.
Some Labor figures are keen to ensure that the Labor platform contains a commitment to ensure the UNHCR is funded sufficiently to enable a viable regional approach to resettlement, and to boost the community sponsorship of refugees above and beyond the humanitarian quota.
The government has turned its political sights on Labor and the refugee debate since Kearney delivered her speech, with various players arguing that Labor will lose control of Australia’s borders if it wins the next federal election.