Publication Details

Davidson, A. B. 2005, ''Europe and Refugees: A Sparrow''s Eye View'', Seeking Refuge: Asylum Seekers and Politics in a Globalising World, 1 edn, University of Wollongong Press, Broadway NSW. pp. 40


This chapter contrasts Australian and European policies and attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers, and suggests that underlying European attitudes there is a stronger sense of social decency, based on a longer and deeper historical perspective. A detailed examination of European treatment of refugees and asylum seekers would be more critical of European treatment, but compared with Australia's, European refugee policy does not appear so bad. While it is easy to point at figures like Le Pen or the late Pym Forteyn as examples of European failure, the difference between Australia and Europe is summed up in the Human Rights Watch words: 'Australia is the first nation to put the concept of deterring secondary movement [of asylum seekers] into practice in ... a unilateral and uncompromising way'. [ Many more refugees proportionate to population are accepted into Continental Europe than Australia. Germany, for example, has a ratio of 1 refugee to 456 head of population; while Australia has 1 to 1138. An applicant still has a much greater chance of getting accepted into Europe than Australia precisely because it is easier to cross the threshold and gain asylum.