On a positive note, both parties will continue to resettle refugees directly from camps and urban settlements in other countries, as well as asylum seekers who come by plane who are found to be refugees. The total number of refugees accepted by Australia -- whether by overseas resettlement, plane arrivals or boat arrivals -- will be capped at 13,750 by the Coalition. Labor will increase that number to 20,000, and possibly up to 27,000 if there is a significant decline in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
Public perception at fault?
The public perception is that asylum numbers are much higher than this, and many people do not understand why people flee in the first place. Given Australia's relative affluence and political stability, most voters have no conception of what it means to fear persecution or other forms of serious harm.
In fact, perhaps the saddest irony of all is that precisely because the asylum issue has such a negligible impact on most Australians' everyday lives, they can choose to remain ignorant about the issue. Yet it still drives votes.
Finally, the more that asylum seekers are made to disappear from our community, the less chance there is for Australians to get to know them as neighbors, colleagues or friends. As this happens, the chance for greater empathy and understanding also disappears.
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