To: Federal Government
Ensure that Nauru and Manus Island are NOT a reinvention of Howard's "Pacific Solution"
Dear Julia Gillard, Please investigate, as a matter of urgency, the establishment of a Government managed volunteer program to help staff the new asylum seeker processing centres in Nauru and Manus island. There may be thousands of retired professionals (just for starters) who'd be prepared to do a 6 month or even 1-2 year placement in either Nauru or Manus Island and such a program could offset a substantial proportion of the costs associated with significantly increasing our refugee intake. Experienced teachers, welfare workers, nurses, doctors, solicitors etc. are among the potential recruits to such important work and there'd be, perhaps, an equivalent army of skilled tradespeople who would sign up should a volunteer program be instituted. Such a program would be consistent with numerous policy and economic objectives and, as such, ought be given serious consideration.
Why is this important?
Australia's total migration program outcome for 2011-12 was 184,998 places (this from the Dept website) and our wealthy nation could easily reduce this intake so as to permit a substantial increase in our refugee numbers without serious deleterious impacts on our budget. The degree to which an increased refugee intake appears as an economic cost can be used by opponents to whip up negative sentiment in that sector of the electorate which is susceptible to such arguments. Should research show that these costs could be considerably reduced, the objections of many would be refuted.