In the first Quarterly Essay of 2004, Robert Manne tells the stories of individual asylum seekers and finds in their experience the seeds of a devastating critique. Balancing sorrow and pity with a controlled anger, Manne develops a sustained argument about what could, and should, be done for the nine thousand refugees who remain in limbo on temporary protection visas. Sending Them Home also contains a groundbreaking account of conditions in the offshore processing camps on Nauru, whose operations have until now been shrouded in secrecy, and a damning forensic investigation of the recent efforts to return - frequently against their will - many of those who sought our protection and whose countries remain in turmoil. Combining ethical reflection and acute political analysis, this essay initiates a new phase in the refugee debate.
"No one ought to pretend that the unanticipated arrival of the Iraqis, Afghans and Iranians did not pose real ... problems for Australia. However these problems arose not because these people were not genuine refugees. They arose, rather, precisely because the overwhelming majority of them were." —Robert Manne, Sending Them Home