From: The Australian
August 10, 2011
Father Brennan, an avowed critic of the Howard government's Pacific Solution, said the Coalition's alternative policy of processing asylum-seekers on Nauru is the more moral option. He said the Malaysia deal appeared to have been driven by a desire to hatch a policy "more ruthless" than Nauru. "I presume what was accepted in Canberra on both sides of the political fence was that some version of the Pacific Solution had to be found, but it had to be more ruthless than the original Pacific Solution," Father Brennan said.
"Because there couldn't be guaranteed resettlement in Australia or New Zealand." Father Brennan said Nauru had the advantage of being a controlled environment. "In Nauru, at least the Australian government was providing healthcare and education," he told The Australian.
"And, most significantly, once someone was proved to be a refugee in Nauru they would be guaranteed resettlement."
Father Brennan's attack came a day after the High Court extended an injunction preventing the deportation of asylum-seekers to Malaysia until August 22, with judge Kenneth Hayne ruling that there were "serious questions" about the minister's authority under the Migration Act. Yesterday, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government would seek to have the court date brought forward.
"It's important that we make it very clear to people-smugglers and asylum-seekers and everybody else that Australia is a closed destination for boat travel for asylum-seekers," Mr Bowen said.
Father Brennan was a high-profile critic of the Pacific Solution, in which asylum-seekers were processed on the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru, frequently spending years there.
The Catholic priest and professor of law at the Australian Catholic University emphasised he was not advocating a revival of the processing centre on Nauru, which he argued was unlikely to work, anyway, as it was now widely known that most refugees detained on Nauru ended up in Australia.
But he effectively accused the intellectual Left of adopting a supine posture in its response to the government's Malaysia proposal. "If this had been the Howard government doing this initially rather than Nauru, we'd have had demonstrations in the street," Father Brennan said. "It's the old problem -- when the Left of the ALP does this sort of thing people are left with nowhere to go."
Father Brennan also criticised Mr Bowen's equivocation on the question of whether to include children in the caseload sent to Kuala Lumpur, saying it rendered the policy either "unprincipled" or "unworkable".