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NFPs respond to Morrison’s refusal to sign UN pact

The Refugee Council of Australia and Save the Children respond to Prime Minster Scott Morrison’s refusal to sign the Global Compact

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said the Prime Minister’s claim that signing a global compact would compromise its immigration policy is “nonsense”.

Chief Executive of RCOA, Paul Power, said the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a non-binding, co-operative agreement that leaves nations which sign it with full freedom to implement its provisions in the best way it sees fit.

Power said: “It is ironic that the Australian government, which has long argued that migration should be safe, orderly and regular, is now refusing to sign the first ever Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”

Scott Morrison is following in Donald Trump’s footsteps by refusing to sign the compact which Australia helped draft. Australian officials have been heavily active in negotiating the wording of the United Nations compact over the past two years.

But Morrison said it would compromise Australia’s border security and immigration settings: “It doesn’t distinguish between those who illegally enter Australia and those who come the right way. I would never allow something to compromise our borders, I worked too hard to ensure that we weren’t in that position.”

Power said that officials of the Department of Home Affairs and of Foreign Affairs has been very active in having considerable influence over the wrongdoing of the Compact and that Australia is joining a group of governments appealing to far-right groups.

“It is hard to see the Australian government’s decision as anything other than posturing for some political gain, as the facts do not align with the Prime Minister’s claims.”

The United Nations, Israel, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria have also refused to sign the agreement.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the compact was primarily focused on Europe, where asylum seekers were drowning at sea in the Mediterranean: “I think this compact was largely directed at that problem, not towards our part of the world.”

He added that Australia stopped the boat arrivals and drownings at sea through hard-line border protection polices and Australia is “not going to surrender that”.

However, the pact explicitly affirms the sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policies. The Australian government is worried about how the courts could interpret the pact, with Dutton expressing concerns that it might “starve us as a sovereign nation of the ability to decide the way in which we return people”.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, said Labor was not fussed if they signed the compact or not, telling reporters in Sydney: “Obviously we’ll take the advice of our security experts on what we should and shouldn’t do.”

Save the Children is urging Australia to work towards global solutions on migration.

Policy Director, Mat Tinkler, said: “There is unprecedented movement of people, including vulnerable children, around the world which Australia cannot ignore.”

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