Dilemmas around how to deal with asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat have been a key driver of political and public discourse for over a decade. In 2012, an ‘Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers’ was established to provide advice to the Australian government about how to deal with the increasingly embarrassing issue of asylum seekers drowning at sea and a parliamentary stalemate on the matter. Using frame analysis to understand how national and post-national identities are being recruited in this debate, this paper analyses submissions to the Panel. We demonstrate how arguments for and against asylum seekers are constructed around nationalism, regionalism and globalism (cosmopolitan). Australia was variously framed as having an alternative national character from that promoted by politicians, as having a key regional role, and hence identity, and as a global citizen (both in reality and in appearance). Contrary to expectations, we found that each frame served as a vehicle through which progressive arguments were articulated, indicating the utility of each in arguing for more humane treatment of ‘Others’.