One year on: 'Go Back' participants reflect on asylum seeker policy

Australian actress, model and former Go Back To Where You Came From participant, Imogen Bailey, says she is mortified by the federal government’s decision to send asylum seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea.

Australian actress, model and former Go Back To Where You Came From participant Imogen Bailey says she is mortified by the Federal Government's decision to send asylum seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea.

It's been a year since Bailey appeared in the television series, and she is critical of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for politicising the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

“I wanted to like Kevin Rudd and I think that, you know, for me, the depth of the manipulation of this is that are wanting to have an election and what can they use to suddenly swing people's votes round,” she said.

“All of a sudden nobody is talking about what he did to Julia , nobody is talking about how much debt we're in, we're now all talking about our fear of asylum seekers and that means that we are going to be driven to the polls and we are going to be voting out of fear."

WATCH: 'I wanted to like Rudd': Imogen Bailey reacts to PNG policy

Go Back To Where You Came From followed the experiences of six prominent Australians as they traced the difficult and often dangerous journeys taken by asylum seekers to reach this country.

Since it aired last year, both the Federal Government and opposition have announced tough new policies to deal with the growing number of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

It also comes as a new report by the Australian Crime Commission shows almost 1000 asylum seekers have died at sea while trying to reach Australia by boat over 10 years.

Another 'Go Back' participant, the former Howard-era minister, Peter Reith, said he supported the PNG solution.

"I think the spirit of the policies are not too bad in the sense that an arrangement with PNG is a good arrangement and I think that we should appreciate the fact that the PNG government has been prepared to play a leading role," he said.

"It's not such an obvious deterrent because Labor's approach to these issues all along has been basically taking a position and then backing off it."

WATCH: Peter Reith reflects on 'Go Back' experience

Radio announcer and fellow participant in the series, Michael Smith, said he is surprised that the situation in Australia is so bad one year down the track.

He said the government's move to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea is too little, too late and not enough to stop refugees paying people smugglers and risking their lives in boats.

“The likelihood of people dying is so clear, that the fact that nothing has been done makes the people who've done nothing culpable in my view,” he said.

“The reason people come is because once they get here by boat they can get the sugar that's on the table. Take the friggin' sugar off the table. That's it. It's as simple as that. You've just got to say there's no more permanent visas, there's no access to the wonders, the glittering prize of residency in Australia," he said.

“They're not taking it off the table, right? They are pretending to."

WATCH: Radio announcer tells Rudd 'take the sugar off the table'

Reflecting on the response by Immigration Minister Tony Burke to allegations of rape at the Manus Island detention centre, Mr Smith said he was in disbelief.

"He is the minister who is responsible for the care and custody of people who are detained against their will. And he's got credible allegations," said Mr Smith.

“You've got the poor bloke who has been raped. He makes a complaint, no investigation, no police. No one does anything until it gets to the minister and then the minister says 'Well, we didn't have the names of the blokes who did it, so we can't investigate'. It's like saying to the family of the late Jill Meagher, as if the police said, 'well we don't have the name of the bloke who did it so we can't investigate'.”

WATCH : Refugees ask for UNHCR process to be sped up


Source: SBS