Australian Voters Split On Sending Babies To Nauru


Australians are split on what to do with children born in the country but subject to offshore detention.

According to a report published by Essential on Tuesday, 40 per cent of the 1,015 people polled said they thought babies born in Australia should remain in the country, while 39 per cent said they should be sent to Nauru. 21 per cent responded that they did not know.

The treatment of children in immigration detention, and particularly babies, has emerged as a major dilemma for the Turnbull government since the failed M68 High Court challenge, which unsuccessfully attempted to undermine the legal basis for offshore detention and processing. Asylum seekers who travelled to Australia by boat after August 2013 have been sent to offshore processing but are regularly transferred back to Australia, generally to receive medical attention. This has included the transfer of pregnant mothers, leading to a situation whereby children born in Australia face deportation to Nauru.

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One of the babies facing return to Nauru. (IMAGE: GetUp!)

The Essential poll found young people were more likely to want the infants kept in Australia, while 74 per cent of Greens voters felt likewise, compared to 50 per cent of Labor voters and 29 per cent of Coalition voters.

In results that may help explain the first poll, Essential also asked respondents to rate the conditions for asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island. Despite the ongoing protests of those detained, just over one third of voters said they believed the conditions to be good or very good.

The results coincide almost perfectly with the two-year anniversary of the death of Reza Barati, an Iranian asylum seeker murdered in the Manus Island detention centre after protests were violently crushed by staff and Papua New Guinean paramilitary forces. No one has yet been convicted of the killing, and a key witness who remains detained on Manus says he is afraid for his life.

‘Let them stay’ protests have continued around Australia this week, as the campaign to keep the 267 asylum seekers signed on to the High Court case in Australia endures.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.