During the 2010 federal election campaign, the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition issued statements on asylum seeker policy that were pandering to the anxieties of a minority of Australians. The statements about asylum seekers that have been issued by the major political parties highlight the need for a comprehensive and informed debate about asylum seeker and refugee policy. An informed debate about refugee and asylum seeker policy has been lacking not least because of a lack of historical awareness of refugee and asylum seeker issues. Refugee and asylum seeker issues have not featured prominently in Australian historiography. Six themes suggest themselves for further historical research: anti-alienism and refugee advocacy; the institution of asylum; engagement with the international refugee regime; the intersections between refugee and immigration policy; the evolvement of the category of the refugee; and the admission and rejection of refugees. Social inclusion ought to be thought of as a two-way process. If social inclusion of resettled refugees were to be successful, Australians would need to pay more attention to the memories and histories refugees bring to Australia.