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September 21, 2011

Help make sure this is the end of offshore processing

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen are pushing ahead with new legislative amendments designed to get around the High Court and allow the Malaysia solution to proceed. Tony Abbott has announced that the Liberals will not support the new laws, and the government has rejected his proposed amendment that would have meant asylum seekers could only be sent to countries that have signed the UN Convention on refugees, such as Nauru.

The Labor caucus has approved Gillard’s new amendments, despite significant opposition from inside the caucus. The refugee movement has been encouraged by the reports that Labor MPs are considering crossing the floor or boycotting the vote. It is an indication of the growing community support for putting an end to the disgraceful race to the bottom between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

At this stage new legislation is unlikely to pass through parliament. But further efforts by the government to get up new legal changes are possible, before the government plans to push for a vote on them on Wednesday. If parliament passes any amendments RAC will hold a protest this Thursday at 12.30pm at the Department of Immigration, Lee St, City.

In the meantime, RAC is urging people to contact their local MPs to make sure the law is not changed, by urging MPs to vote against any proposed amendments designed to allow the Malaysia deal and other expansions of offshore processing to proceed. This is our chance to kill off third country offshore processing, and build momentum for the government to process asylum seekers onshore. This would be a real victory for refugee rights–but we will still need to keep pushing to end mandatory detention, with almost 6000 people still being held in detention. Below is a suggestion of what you could email or tell them:

Support refugee rights by opposing offshore processing

I am writing to ask you to put the the human rights of asylum seekers first and join the Greens in taking a principled stand against third country processing, by voting to defeat any proposed amendments to the Migration Act designed  allow asylum seekers to be sent offshore, whether to Nauru, Manus Island, Malaysia or any other country.

Julia Gillard’s proposed legal changes do nothing to guarantee the human rights of asylum seekers expelled from Australia. The amendments provide the Minister with total unreviewable power to designate a third country as being safe for processing. The Minister will have the power to expel unaccompanied minors without any court review of those decisions.

Rather than attempt to circumvent the High Court decision, there is an opportunity to end the anti-refugee policies of the Howard era and put an end to offshore processing and mandatory detention.

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