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“IT’S not harsh enough that asylum seekers have to live in such appalling conditions in camps offshore and overcrowded camps onshore, or that those who are released into the community do so on a pittance, leaving church groups to pick up the pieces.

Now Tony Abbott suggests asylum seekers living in the community and being paid 89 per cent of the lowest Centrelink payment should participate in a work-for-the-dole scheme (”Lib plan for dole work for refugees”, The Age, 23/11). This is tantamount to forcing some of the most vulnerable people into modern slavery; it’s abhorrent and revolting. Australian politics has just stooped to a new low.

The only way to stop the boats in a humane way is a regional solution that sees all safe countries in our region accepting an annual quota of refugees on a random basis. People are processed in whatever country they land and are then randomly sent to the next safe country available that has not fulfilled its quota. Such a system destroys the market for people smugglers, but requires hard and long diplomacy

Cameron McAdam, Camperdown

“LABOR is hopelessly incompetent at legislating cruelty to asylum seekers. It’s just not in the party’s DNA. The Liberal Party is far more accomplished in this department. As such, they are aware of the limits to which they can go before they turn the country into a pariah state. Labor would be better served treating refugees humanely. By trying to outdo the Liberals, Labor is making a fool of itself and Australia.

William Hageman, Blackburn South”

“IT’S sad to see the two great parties descend into a frantic race to the bottom. Xenophobia is easy politics, pandering to ignorance, fear and perceived self-interest. Seeking asylum is not illegal, we are not being ”invaded”, and people are not ”queue jumping” or depriving others of jobs. Both John Howard and Kim Beazley chose the populist path rather than confronting the issue and challenging prejudice. Their successors continue down this slippery slope.

Why a refugee buying a perilous passage should be demonised while the greater numbers of airline visitors overstaying visas are ignored, or wealthy immigrants are encouraged to ”queue jump” by gaining ”immigration points” (”Wonky values in ‘golden ticket’ visa program”, The Age, 23/11), is hard to fathom.

The recent confrontation captured on YouTube is the ugly underbelly of xenophobic policies and misplaced patriotism. A casual reflection on the horror of the past 100 years of European history culminating in the appalling killings in Norway – until then a ”poster” country for tolerance – illustrate that the consequences can tragically run out of control. The blood will be on the hands of Liberal and Labor alike.

Dick Davies, Warrandyte”