“I’d now like to apologise to you all: the present political class of which I am a member has let Australia down badly – it has put in place, not just physically and legally but also psychologically, the grotesque system that Australia has developed over the past 15-plus years to treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people who turn to this country for help.
“We intercept boats at sea, turn some around and deliver others directly into the hands of Sri Lankan or Vietnamese authorities. We pay people smugglers, we fund dark advertisements in the region warning that asylum seekers coming by boat will never be settled in Australia; we then endeavour to destroy the hopes, dreams and spirit of those who have arrived by boat. The fact that the UN refugee convention says that refugees shall not be punished for the manner of their arrival is ignored. ”
“When political leadership is missing, as it is right now, it is the community that can shame them into action.”
“Grandmothers Against the Detention of Refugee Children came from around Australia to protest at the national parliament last month – against the backdrop of the green parliamentary lawns there was a sea of white hair and purple clothes – it was a truly magnificent sight! ”
“The Palm Sunday rallies around the country last month were huge – the Perth one was the biggest I have ever been to. The City of Fremantle is one of 143 local governments around the nation to become a Refugee Welcome Zone.”
“The momentum is building throughout Australia against an unjust and an unsustainable situation.”
Read Melissa’s full speech here