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September 21, 2011

REFUGEE GROUPS CALL FOR DEFEAT OF THIRD COUNTRY PROCESSING LEGISLATION

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Refugee advocacy groups have called for the biggest possible vote to ensure the defeat of the Labor government’s latest amendments to the Migration Act.

“Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen’s amendments to the Migration Act to allow third country processing do nothing to guarantee the human rights of asylum seekers expelled from Australia. In fact they would give the Minister total un-reviewable power to send asylum seekers to any country he deemed to be safe,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The Minister will have the power to expel unaccompanied minors without any court review of those decisions.

“The amendments are a direct attempt to circumvent the High Court’s ruling against that the Malaysia Agreement. Julia Gillard also knows that the amendments are against Labor Party policy.

“There is strong opposition within the Labor party, but she is determined to ride roughshod over those concerns. 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. Opinion polls show a majority of the Australian population support asylum seekers being processed in Australia.

“It is shocking to see the Labor Party that so rightly condemned the Pacific Solution in years gone by, now going cap in hand to the Coalition parties to change the law to entrench the abuse of asylum seekers.

“Both parties should drop third country offshore processing – Nauru is no alternative to Malaysia. We also reject the Coalition’s proposal to re-establish temporary protection visas.

“It is imperative that Julia Gillard’s amendments are defeated. We are calling on all MPs of conscience to put the human rights of asylum seekers first and join the Greens in taking a principled stand against third country processing, and vote to defeat these amendments.

“We believe the vote on the amendments should happen as soon as possible – to end the uncertainty and settle the issue of third country processing once and for all.

“The sooner this issue is settled, the sooner the government can turn its attention to ending the misery of the more than 6000 asylum seekers in detention.

“By ending offshore processing and mandatory detention, the Labor government could completely end the failed anti-refugee policies of the Howard era,” said Ian Rintoul.

The Refugee Action Coalition is holding a major “Not Malaysia, Not Nauru, No offshore processing” rally in Sydney at 12 noon, Town Hall on Saturday October 15.

A major mobilization is also planned for National Labor Party Conference in Sydney on Sunday 4 December.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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