Burnside: More letters returned from Manus

More letters returned from Manus Island – Julian Burnside – 29 July 2015

150731 Returned-letters

This is a photo of about 300 letters posted to detainees on Manus Island have been returned unopened.

Some of them, no doubt,  were addressed to people who have left Manus and returned to their country of origin.

The objective of the detention system as it operates on Manus is to break the spirit of people held there so they will give up any hope of protection and prefer to  face persecution at home than face persecution at the hands of Australia and its contractors:

  • IHMS (International Health & Medical Services)

Read more here

To read more articles by JULIAN BURNSIDE click on this link    =    http://www.julianburnside.com.au/

The Question Marles Couldn’t Answer

The Refugee Question That Richard Marles Couldn’t Answer

By Max Chalmers
New Matilda – 27 July 2015

” … there was one question that finally caused Marles to come unstuck, forcing him to deviate from the pre-prepared lines he would eventually deliver to the party as a whole the next day, when the actual turn back debate took place.

“What will happen to the 2,000 or so people already sent to Manus Island and Nauru? How much more will they have to endure in the name of stopping the boats, or deaths at sea, or political expedience?

“The fate of these people was put to Marles by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Pamela Curr, who told the room that women are facing escalating threats in the community on Nauru. Curr opened by saying she did not wish to demonise Nauruans, but demanded to know what an ALP government would do to help refugees living on the island.”

Read the full article here


The ethical consequences of making the ALP electable

The ethical consequences of making the ALP electable

Andrew Hamilton |  29 July 2015


… policies are not merely pieces of paper. Vulnerable and desperate people experience in the flesh the consequences of this policy. The way in which we treat people under our policies, too, have consequences for ourselves. In adopting this policy the Labor Party has endorsed what Australian agents will do to people on the sea and in detention centres in our name.

The reasons given for the change are to make the party electable and to prevent people from dying at sea. Both these reasons rest on the principle that the end justifies the means – that it is right to inflict suffering and harm on innocent people in order to deter others from bringing harm on themselves or from harming the Party.

Read full article here

Do the means justify the ends?

Operation Sovereign Borders, offshore detention and the ‘drownings argument’

An article by Sarah Joseph, Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

Orange Life Boat


“Do the means justify the ends, regardless of motivation, if the ends correlate with many fewer deaths by drowning?”

“More than 90% of the asylum seekers who have arrived by boat in Australia have been recognised as refugees. At the risk of sounding trite, it is really dangerous being a refugee. Drowning by boat is drowning while fleeing. But it is very dangerous to flee via land. And it is very dangerous to not flee.”

“… refugee camps don’t operate like queues – it isn’t first-come first-served. If it was, apparently it would take a refugee arriving in the “queue” now 170 years to reach the front. “

The burden of proof is on the government to demonstrate that its policy settings are correct. And I don’t think it can, given the numerous grave flaws in that policy.

• The expenditure of billions of dollars on the offshore warehousing of asylum seekers is not the answer, when humane policies are so much cheaper.

• High seas refoulement and disappearance is not the answer.

• The silencing of reports of sexual and other abuse in offshore detention is not the answer.

• The iron law of on-water confidentiality, restricting the info that the Australian people receive on the treatment of human beings under its own government’s policies, is not the answer.

• Australia’s mute response to breakdowns in the rule of law on Nauru and PNG are not the answer.

• The shredding of Australia’s international reputation is not the answer.

• The creation of what former Australian of the Year Pat McGorry has called “factories for producing mental illness” is not the answer.

• And finally, the use of people as means to ends, people who have plainly not drowned and are in no danger of drowning – the infliction of deliberate cruelty on such people so as to deter others from coming – is most certainly not the answer.

Read the full article here


Child in detention for 1113 days: Only 25 Rohingya refugees accepted

Child in detention for 1113 days, only 25 Rohingya refugees accepted – 24 July 2015

Rohingya - Indonesia

A Rohingya family pictured in May who arrived by boat in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Photo: Reuters

A child has been held in immigration detention for at least 1113 days and the Abbott government has accepted just 25 Rohingya refugees despite thousands fleeing persecution, official figures show, raising fresh criticism of Australia’s hardline asylum-seeker stance.

The revelations follow alarming evidence to a Senate inquiry this week that revealed a child asylum seeker at the Nauru detention centre required medical treatment after allegedly being raped by another detainee in the shower. There have been 67 child abuse allegations at the facility.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said on Friday that Australia’s refugee intake should be doubled, as the party prepared for divisive debate on whether to adopt a policy of turning back asylum-seeker boats. She said all children should be released from detention.

Read more

Petitions and Letters – do they make a difference?

See the update below on the Save Nadir Campaign …

Can Letters Make a Difference ?

Mike thinks so.

This week Mike wrote to every ALP member of parliament,

and no doubt Mike would be feeling disappointed tonight.

But what if we had ALL written to every ALP member of parliament?

Mike’s letter … and … Nadir’s petition

 If you haven’t already done so, you can add your voice to Nadir’s petition – here


4 August … Update on the Save Nadir Campaign …

Nadir has been assured by his immigration case worker that he won’t be deported until a decision is handed down on the International Treaties Obligations Assessment conducted by the department in January this year and that this decision may take many months. Solicitor and migration agent acting for Nadir, Chilemwa Nkowane- Poole, has confirmed this to be the case. So while his deportation date – for the day after tomorrow – may come and go, Nadir has yet to be given any certainty about his future and has been left with the ongoing fear of still being deported once the ITOA decision is made.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, is fully aware of Nadir’s case and of the groundswell of support he has received from around the country. Let’s use these last few days before the given deportation date to contact Peter Dutton. We urge you to phone his office and let his staff know that you do not want Nadir to be deported – either now or into the future. Tell them Nadir will never be safe in Afghanistan and that you urge the minister to show compassion and give Nadir permanent protection in Australia. All phone messages are noted, emails too. As 6 August now approaches, let’s use this opportunity to let Peter Dutton’s office know we are watching carefully and hoping for a compassionate response. Fisher MP, Mal Brough, is well-acquainted with Nadir’s case. We ask you to contact his office too and pass on the same message.

Thank you all for your continued support of our Save Nadir campaign.

Peter Dutton

  • Immigration minister
  • Parliamentary office: (02) 6277 7860
  • Electoral office: (07) 3205 9977

Mal Brough

  • Member for Fisher
  • Parliamentary office: (02) 6277 4970
  • Electoral office: (07) 5493 5556

ALP agrees to boat turn-backs

ALP national conference: Labor delegates vote down ban on asylum seeker boat turnbacks

ABC News – 25 July 2015

The Labor national conference has voted down a motion to reject the policy of turning back asylum seeker boats after an emotional and passionate debate.

The hour-long debate was initially interrupted by protesters who unfurled a banner saying “no refugee tow backs”.

Others who were shouting out their opposition to the plan were removed by security.

“Labor Party president Mark Butler, who was chairing the session, initially declared the motion defeated “on the voices” and after a show of hands.

“Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese voted for the motion to ban turn-backs.

“Other senior frontbenchers from the Left faction, Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek gave their votes to proxies, who also supported Mr Giles’s motion banning boat turn-backs.”

Read full article here


ALP releases Plan for Asylum Seekers

NB – This an ALP release – Fact Sheet from ALP website – http://www.alp.org.au/asylumseekers

A humane and compassionate approach to asylum seekers

What’s the issue?

According the UNHCR, the number of displaced people fleeing from war, conflict or persecution is the highest number since World War II.

The forced displacement of persons around the globe is currently at unprecedented levels. By the close of 2014 an estimated 59.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced around the globe as a result of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations. This is 8.3 million persons more than the previous year and the highest recorded annual increase in a single year.

Labor believes that Australia can do more to address this global humanitarian crisis. Labor believes in a compassionate approach to asylum seekers which enables refugees to progress their claims safely and securely.

Labor’s Plan

Labor’s approach to this policy area involves the following approach:

A leading commitment to UNHCR’s work both globally and in South East Asia

A Shorten Labor Government will provide significantly increased annual funding to the UNHCR for its global work program and its work in South East Asia and the Pacific.

At a time when the global humanitarian need is greater than ever, Labor will provide $450 million over three years to support the important work of the UNHCR.

This funding commitment would place Australia in the top 5 of global contributors to the UNHCR.

Restoring the UN Refugees Convention

Labor will reinstate references to the UN Refugees Convention in the Migration Act to reverse the Abbott Government’s retrograde efforts to undermine international law.

Develop an agenda of greater regional cooperation and leadership

A Shorten Labor Government will take a leadership role within South East Asia and the Pacific to build a regional humanitarian framework to improve the situation of asylum seekers.

This would include supporting the UNHCR in providing health and education services to asylum seekers. It would also involve advocating for work rights for asylum seekers, similar to what would have been achieved under the proposed Malaysia Agreement in 2011.

Increase Australia’s humanitarian intake

By 2025, Labor will increase Australia’s annual humanitarian intake to 27,000 – almost double the current intake under the Abbott Government of 13,750. As part of our commitment to demonstrating leadership in our region, a portion of the program will be dedicated to resettling refugees from the region.

Protecting the interests of children

Labor will work to ensure children are out of detention as soon as possible.

Labor is committed to providing a strong independent voice within government to advocate for the interests of children seeking asylum.

Labor will appoint an advocate independent of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection backed by the resources and statutory powers necessary to pursue the best interests of those children, including the power to bring court proceedings on a child’s behalf.

This will not reduce the Minister’s obligations in relation to unaccompanied non-citizen children or the ability of other interested parties to take court action against the Minister.

The independent children’s advocate will have access to all unaccompanied minors in detention and in the community to ensure their rights and interests are protected. The advocate will provide regular reports to the Minister and the Parliament.

Labor will legislate to impose mandatory reporting of child abuse in all offshore and onshore immigration detention facilities.

Fast and fair refugee determinations

Labor will reinstate access to the Refugee Review Tribunal and abolish the Independent Assessment Authority established by the Abbott Government.

Currently processing of those in Australia is incredibly slow. As part of restarting processing we would be getting as many people out of detention as soon as possible in particular children and their families.

Under the former Labor Government there was a statutory requirement for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to report on how many claims were processed within 90 days of a completed application being received. This ’90 day rule’ was an important accountability measure in ensuring that government operates in a timely way in assessing protection applications. The Abbott Government removed this requirement as part of a package of measures passed by the Senate in December last year.

Labor in government will reintroduce the ‘90 day rule’ into the Migration Act.

Independent oversight of Australian funded processing facilities

Labor will stand firm on maintaining a policy of offshore processing. The previous Labor Government took Australia off the table through regional resettlement arrangements which dealt a huge blow to people smugglers and hobbled the ability of people smugglers to sell the journey to Australia.

Labor does not believe offshore facilities should be run as punitive holding cells. They need to be humane and offer people seeking safety exactly that. Fast and efficient processing should occur so that claims for protection can be determined quickly and fairly.

Labor will implement independent oversight of Australian-funded processing facilities.

Labor will seek the agreement of the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru to establish bilateral mechanisms (comprising officials of each relevant jurisdiction) to support the independent oversight of the Australian-funded offshore facilities. It will be important that this function be undertaken in a cooperative way to strengthen bi-lateral relations.

Labor will empower the Commonwealth Ombudsman to provide independent oversight of Australia’s onshore detention network.

Labor will continue to ensure that those working in the immigration system enjoy the benefit of whistleblower protections to speak out about maladministration and corruption.

Preventing deaths at sea

The combination of offshore processing and regional resettlement together with the policy of turning back boats has stopped the flow of vessels arriving on our shores. None could have succeeded in isolation but together they have ended a human tragedy.

To ensure that people smugglers are denied the opportunity to offer any incentive to vulnerable people to board unsafe boats to make the dangerous journey to Australia by sea. Provided it can be done so safely, a future Labor Government will retain the option of turning boats around.

Abolishing Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs)

Labor will abolish TPVs which keep people in a permanent state of limbo. Labor will commit to processing people as quickly as possible and placing those found to be genuine refugees on permanent protection visas.

Financial Implications

Labor’s proposed package has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office. Labor’s proposed approach is anticipated to cost $450 million over the forward estimates and will be funded from Labor’s package of measures which improve the Budget by $2.8 billion.


Shorten’s backflip on boat turn-backs is reprehensible

Shorten’s backflip on boat turn-backs is reprehensible

Age Editorial – 24 July 2015

In case anyone has forgotten, it was the Australian Labor Party that introduced banishment to Nauru and Manus Island as a way of halting the flow of boats carrying asylum seekers and economic migrants to our shores. And it was Labor under Kevin Rudd that declared “asylum seekers who come here by boat will never be settled in Australia”. That uncompromising “solution”, as some might glorify it, has been the most profound deterrent on people-trafficking in this region.

Read more here

Shorten faces asylum seeker debate

Bill Shorten faces tough questions as asylum policies debated at ALP national conference

ABC News – 25 July 2015

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will today face the most torrid day of the ALP national conference.

Mr Shorten has revealed details of his policy to support turning back asylum seeker boats along with a plan to double the refugee intake to 27,000 people a year and significantly improve conditions for detainees on Nauru and Manus Island.

But there is intense opposition to turn-backs from within sections of the Labor Party. Many say it is impossible for Australia to turn back boats and still comply with its international obligations.

Read the full article here