Tagasylum seekers

An anniversary I’d rather not be celebrating

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This week marks the fourth anniversary of the decision by the Rudd-Gillard government to detain unauthorised asylum seekers in offshore detention centres and never permit them entry to our county. Today the system is on the verge of collapse, with the Manus centre declared illegal by the PNG Supreme Court, the government of Nauru refusing to keep people detained, and the deal with the US to...

The offer of sanctuary that should shock and shame us

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Yesterday the Anglican Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane announced that he would offer sanctuary in the cathedral to any asylum seekers and refugees in danger of being shipped to Nauru or Manus Island. Other cathedrals and churches around the country have made the same offer. Sanctuary is serious business. It has a long pedigree going back to the Old Testament era. If the offer is...

How we can win the debate on refugees

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I listened last night to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkle, respond to the waves of irregular migration to Europe by reaffirming her country’s commitment to provide protection to those found to be refugees and Germany’s readiness to take 800,000 asylum seekers. The contrast with Australia couldn’t be greater. We accept no asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Not a single one. We ship them off to...

Sheer Cold-Hearted Bastardry. History is tragically repeating itself.

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On 13 May 1939, 937 German Jews boarded a cruise liner, the SS St Louis, in a desperate bid to escape Nazi Germany. They had visas to enter Cuba, and from there hoped to gain entry to the US. When they arrived in Cuba 14 days later those hopes were dashed. The Cuban authorities refused them entry. For seven days the captain tried to convince the Cuban authorities to change their minds, but they...

Don’t be fooled. Children will remain in detention.

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In the wake of the agreement between the crossbench Senators and the government, many are under the impression that no children will be held in immigration detention into the future. This is a misunderstanding of what was agreed. Children are currently held in immigration detention centres on the Australian mainland, Christmas Island, and Nauru. Prior to the current agreement the government had...

What the changes to the migration act mean

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This week the Senate passed the “Migration And Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving The Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014”. The bill results in sweeping changes to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas When asylum seekers arrive in Australia they must apply for a protection visa. A protection visa gives them the freedom...

Australia. How we bludge off the rest of the world

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I opened the Australian newspaper today to read a vigorous defence of the government’s  policy of turning back  boats filled with asylum seekers.  Australia has not only succeeded in stemming the flow of people coming by boat to Australia, we have apparently also reduced the flow of refugees into Indonesia, and saved people from drowning at sea.  This would be true if we could be confident...

Sometimes we don’t get to decide who comes to this country

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This week Scott Morrison invoked John Howard’s famous dictum “We will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come.” We should decide whether to turn back boats filled with asylum seekers and we should decide who gets a visa granting them the right to enter and live in Australia. The right to determine who enters your country and under what conditions is...

The death of the wisdom of our youth

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When I was growing up there were two pieces of wisdom frequently imparted to me: “the ends don’t justify the means” and “think about how you would feel if that were done to you”. These two pieces of ethical guidance were designed to help me act with clarity and correctness in difficult situations. The first piece of wisdom, that the ends don’t justify the...

Congratulations Mr Morrison, you’ve stopped the boats. Damn shame it won’t stop the drownings

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The Federal government has achieved what it set out to do. It has stopped the flow to Australia of boats filled with asylum seekers. To achieve this goal the government has turned boats around, put people into high-tech life rafts and sent them back to Indonesia, and those it has been unable to send back it has incarcerated in the most degrading of conditions on Nauru and Christmas Island. The...

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