The Edmund Rice Centre has condemned the Coalition's newly-announced asylum seeker policy, calling it a return to the worst strategies of the past, warning that it carries potential dire consequences and that it would mark a "new low-point".
"This policy is fundamentally flawed," said Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning. "It takes dangerous risks with vulnerable lives."
"To return to such a policy with such little regard for human life - this time with full knowledge of the implications - would mark a new low-point in Australian national life," he stated.
Mr Glendenning said the Coalition's policy is wrong because it, in effect, acts as punishment on people fleeing persecution, rather than protection.
"The Coalition's policy is cruel because it is prepared to expose some of the world's most vulnerable people to the well-documented psychological trauma of long-term detention in remote locations, and ignores the impact of long-term separation, upon families in crisis.
"The Edmund Rice Centre's deportations' research team has carried out investigations in 22 countries into what happens to Australia's rejected asylum seekers. We have conducted interviews inquiring into the fate of over two hundred and fifty people.
"We know what happens when cruel policies like this are put in place," Mr Glendenning said.
"We know that the policies of the Howard Government led to people being returned to danger and to persecution. In some cases people paid for this cruel policy with their lives as some returnees were killed - in Afghanistan, in Sri Lanka, in Colombia, in Iran and in Pakistan."
"Surely we have reached the stage in our national life, where our response to asylum seekers cannot be reduced to a compassion-less auction, appealing to the base instincts and fears of the Australian people.
"After all, among 44 industrialised nations, Australia takes only 1.6 percent of asylum seeker claims. In the light of that reality, this policy announced today is simply heavy-handed cruelty."
Coalition asylum seeker policy condemned (Edmund Rice Centre)