Open Letter: A Committee for Peace and Justice

Open Letter to Delegates to 2015 Australian Labor Party National Conference

Dear Delegate

The ALP has built itself on the traditions of justice and fairness for all. These traditions are being shattered by the ALP Parliamentary members’ adoption of, and support for, punitive asylum seeker policies.

We ask you to do all you can to make the 47th ALP National Conference the moment in ALP history when revitalisation of the traditions of justice and fairness begins. Revitalising these traditions means the Conference requires the Parliamentary members to recognise that seeking asylum is a fundamental human right, and:

  • reject policies of mandatory detention, off-shore processing and boat turn-back;
  • condemn and counteract the cynical practices of reviling asylum seekers and exploiting and inciting public fears and misperceptions; and to have confidence in the community, which if well-informed, will rally behind a just course of action;
  • recognise that Australia, by closing its borders to boat arrivals is compounding the refugee crisis that is griping our region and the world; 
  • recognise that Australia has particular responsibility for refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and neighbouring countries because our destabilising military interventions contributed to the dislocation of these people from their homes.

Most state ALP conferences in the past 12 months have passed resolutions opposing mandatory detention of refugees and forced return to the country of origin. It is clear that a majority of rank and file members of the ALP favour humane and compassionate policies that comply with International Law.

We implore the ALP leadership to honour the support for better and fairer immigration policies by the membership. In the eyes of the community, the success of the Conference—indeed the legitimacy of the Party—is dependent on ALP Parliamentarians accepting that they are bound by Conference decisions.

We commend the ACTU’s Asylum Seekers and Refugees—a Rights-based Approach-Final Policy. We ask you, Dear Delegate, to join with the ACTU in demanding:

  • onshore processing of applications for asylum, and closure of Nauru and Manus Island detention centres;
  • an end to turn-backs of boats carrying asylum seekers;
  • an end to mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers and refugees and the outsourcing of migrant centres to private, for-profit companies;
  • no discrimination in the processing of applications for asylum based on people’s mode of arrival;
  • increase in Australia’s refugee intake to meet the levels received by other industrialised countries;
  • abolition of Temporary Protection Visas;
  • rescission of the Australian government’s Memorandum of Understanding with Cambodia to re-settle asylum seekers in Cambodia;
  • extension of the right to work and the right to Medicare and social service benefits to asylum seekers;
  • an end to forcible deportation of asylum seekers.

We congratulate those within the ALP who have worked long and hard to foster a just asylum seeker and refugee Party platform. All resolutions put to the Conference furthering such a platform have our wholehearted endorsement.

Sincerely and in hope,

Community for Peace and Justice

See signatures here