CategoryRefugee Ethics

The offer of sanctuary that should shock and shame us


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...

When the House fell silent. Question time, political theatre and the rights of vulnerable children


Question time in the Australian Parliament is political theatre at its best. The chamber is packed as each side tries to land a telling blow upon its opponent. Politicians jeer across the aisle; the Speaker tries to maintain a semblance of order; government members use questions as an excuse to pummel the opposition, frequently with scant regard for answering the question asked; opposition...

A diminished generosity. How Australia’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis pales in comparison to the efforts of our forebears


This week’s outpouring of empathy and compassion for those fleeing violence in Syria has been remarkable and has seen the commendable decision of our government to welcome 12,000 refugees from Syria in the next 12 months. As welcome as this decision may be, it’s simultaneously a signal of just how hardhearted we have become. In the Syrian refugee crisis the world is seeing the largest...

How we can win the debate on refugees


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...

The good, the bad, the ugly. The ALP’s Refugee Platform


Refugee policy was the source of much contention that the recent national conference of the Australian Labor Party. Here is my scorecard: Increase the humanitarian intake to 27,000 by 2025. Rating: 6/10 90% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries, many of whom are being overwhelmed with the number Jordan for example, has a population of 6 million  and 3 million refugees;...

Labor to continue turnbacks. Why this is a disappointing result


Over the weekend the Australian Labor Party made some welcome changes to its refugee policy. Numbers are to be increased under a Labor government to 27,000 and millions more invested in the UNHCR. There was however one unwelcome determination, and that was to not exclude turnbacks of boats of asylum seekers trying to reach our shores. Nor was there any movement on the closure of offshore...

Please, please stop saying that stopping the boats had stopped the deaths


The Prime Minister is fond of suggesting that turning boats around, and perhaps even paying people smugglers to turn them around, is “the compassionate thing to do”, for it prevents asylum seekers drowning at sea.  I’m sorry Prime Minister, but no matter how many times you repeat it, it simply is not true. I’ve blogged on this previously, but here’s a little more...

A Better Way Forward on Refugees


Everyone can tell you what’s wrong with Australia’s current approach to asylum seekers and refugees, but what’s a better alternative? A Just Cause has released a document that outlines a better way forward. It shows that the world faces a refugee crisis. 17 million people have fled unimaginable persecution in their homeland and been recognised as refugees, but the international...

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


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...

Deceiving Refugees. Is Peter Dutton Lying or Just Incredibly Naive?


This must surely rank as one of the biggest porkies ever told by a government department. In a letter to refugees detained on Nauru and published by the Guardian, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection says The opportunity to settle in Cambodia is now available to you. The first flight from Nauru to Cambodia for refugees will be as soon as 20 April 2015. Moving to Cambodia provides...

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