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Tampering with Asylum


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Priest, lawyer and social justice advocate Frank Brennan puts forward a comprehensive, well-researched argument for changes in Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers. He compares Australia not with ‘best practice’ countries such as Sweden and Canada, but with those who have most cause to design harsh policies on the issue—the western countries who attract the most asylum seekers (US, UK and Germany). Finding us more punitive than these countries despite our vastly smaller problem, Brennan looks at how and why Australia’s policies have developed. Acknowledging both our need to contain our borders and our international and humanitarian obligations, he comes across as extremely balanced in his viewpoint. This book points out that Australia is not alone in tampering with asylum, and suggests that our policies are so harsh partly because we operate under fewer constraints than the countries he draws comparisons with, having no bill of rights and no land borders. He goes further to posit that our lowering of the standards is encouraging other countries (such as the UK) to follow suit. This book lacks the emotional impact of books such as Borderline and Asylum,but dissects the legal and political issues surrounding the debate with consummate skill. Jo Case is a bookseller and freelance writer. C. 2003 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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