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September 12, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Refugee groups today condemned the Gillard’s government’s announcement that it intends to change the laws to get around the High Court decision that the Malaysia Agreement is unlawful.

Disgracefully, the government has also announced that it wants to change the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act so the Minister can make blanket decisions to send unaccompanied minors off-shore regardless of the conditions or lack of safeguards that might exist in any third country.

“The Gillard government has missed another opportunity to put human rights at the front of its refugee policy. As it slides in the polls, it seems determined to take asylum seekers’ rights down with it,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Opinion polls show a majority are in favour of processing asylum seekers on the mainland. But the government is paralysed by its own rhetoric and its race to the bottom with the Coalition.

“It is willfully and blatantly subverting the Refugee Convention and its obligation to asylum seekers and refugees. Its hypocrisy is now on display once again for the electorate and for the international community.

“The Gillard government is following the long and dishonorable history of the Howard government changing refugee laws whenever courts found their actions to be unlawful. But refugee bashing didn’t save the Howard government,” said Ian Rintoul.

“It may be that in spite of the Coalition’s history, Labor’s amendments go too far even for the Liberal opposition. We hope Labor’s proposed amendments will be defeated in the Parliament, but the choice is not between Malaysia or Nauru.

“The government should drop all third country and offshore processing. Australia has processed asylum seekers on shore for 46 of the 53 years since the Migration Action was introduced.

“Third country processing is not a deterrent. It is cheap politicking at its worst, with asylum seekers being the victims.”

The Refugee Action Coalition has called a rally and march – “Not Malaysia, Not Nauru – No offshore processing” in the Minister Chris Bowen’s Fairfield electorate for Saturday 17 September, at 11.00am. The rally will assemble at the Fairfield railway station and march through Fairfield to Chris Bowen’s office in The Crescent.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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