Australia rejects UN migration pact, sticks with hard-line asylum-seeker policy

Australia has an annual immigration cap of 190,000 places. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Australia rejects UN migration pact, sticks with hard-line asylum-seeker policy

  • Australia joins the United States, Israel and several Eastern European countries in rejecting the UN Global Compact for Migration
  • The pact asks signatories not to detain would-be migrants arbitrarily and to use detention only as a last resort

SYDNEY: Australia will not sign up to a United Nations migration agreement because it would compromise its hard-line immigration policy and endanger national security, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.
Australia joins the United States, Israel and several Eastern European countries in rejecting the UN Global Compact for Migration, which asks signatories not to detain would-be migrants arbitrarily and to use detention only as a last resort.
Morrison said that would jeopardize national security.
“The global compact on migration would compromise Australia’s interest,” Morrison told 2GB Radio. “It doesn’t distinguish between those who illegally enter Australia and those who come the right way.”
Under Canberra’s tough immigration policy, which has bipartisan support, asylum seekers arriving by boat are told they will never be allowed to settle in Australia.
They are then detained in two detention centers on remote South Pacific islands until they are accepted by another nation or agree to return home. The camps have been widely criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups.
“Australia is a textbook case of how not to treat boat arrivals, by sending them offshore to endure abysmal conditions for years and trying to shirk its international responsibilities onto less-developed countries,” said Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s Australia director.
Australia’s rejection of the UN pact is the latest move to tighten migration through a series of policies that are likely to form a central element of Morrison’s bid for re-election at a national ballot that must be held by May 2019.
Opinion polls indicate his conservative government is on course for a landslide defeat.
Australia has an annual immigration cap of 190,000 places. Morrison said this week his government would likely reduce that threshold, a policy that is popular with voters.
A Fairfax-Ipsos poll published on Monday found 45 percent of voters wanted immigration reduced, while a little more than 20 percent wanted an increase.
Morrison’s government said in October it would restrict new immigrants from living in Australia’s largest cities — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — for up to five years.
Although likely to win favor with voters, critics argued such a policy could lead to labor shortages.
Australia’s central bank governor said in August an influx of new residents had helped to underpin strong economic growth.


China charges 10 over riot at a military veterans’ protest

Updated 18 min 3 sec ago
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China charges 10 over riot at a military veterans’ protest

  • The violence points to continued tensions between the authorities and ex-servicemen despite the establishment of a Cabinet agency to oversee veterans’ affairs
  • The government refused to confirm the riot at the time and censored reports about it on the Internet

BEIJING: China state media say 10 people have been charged with various offenses over rioting at a gathering of military veterans protesting for better benefits.
It wasn’t clear whether the suspects are veterans. However, the violence at the Oct. 4-7 gathering in the eastern city of Pingdu points to continued tensions between the authorities and ex-servicemen despite the establishment of a Cabinet agency to oversee veterans’ affairs.
Multiple protests have been staged in recent years, including in the capital, Beijing, to demand better pensions and health care.
The government refused to confirm the riot at the time and censored reports about it on the Internet.