Rally at ALP conference
Meet 12pm Sydney Town hall
Speakers 1pm Darling Harbour convention centre outside ALP conference
Speakers: Ged Kearney (President, ACTU)
Shane Price (NSW Co-convenor, Labor for Refugees)
Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition)
Hazara and Tamil refugees
Initial endorsements: Chilout, Refugee Action Coalition, Labor for Refugees (NSW), National Tertiary Education Union (NSW), Australian Services Union (NSW & ACT (Services)), NSW Nurses Association
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Julia Gillard’s failure to pass new laws through parliament, following the High Court decision, has killed off the Malaysia deal as well as offshore processing in any other country.
However, there is no sign—as yet—that the government is about to take refugee policy in a humanitarian direction. The government will now be forced to process asylum seekers in Australia. This is a significant step forward for refugee rights, and is a tribute to the growing opposition to anti-refugee policies. A Nielsen poll showed 53 per cent of people support processing refugees in Australia.
But while Chris Bowen has admitted he has the power to release asylum seekers into the community on bridging visas there is no talk of abandoning or scaling back mandatory detention.
The government’s Malaysia deal was a shocking new low in refugee policy. It showed the government’s contempt for human rights and their determination to compete with Tony Abbott in a race to the bottom on refugees.
Sickeningly, it even allowed Abbott to claim his policies were more humanitarian. Yet Abbott wants to re-open the detention centre on Nauru and return to vicious Howard-era policies like temporary protection visas.
End mandatory detention
The arbitrary and bureaucratic delays in refugee processing are inflicting increasing misery on asylum seekers languishing in detention. The government’s offshore processing on Australian territory on Christmas Island remains intact, and there are still around 4500 people in detention. These “factories of mental illness” are relentlessly taking their toll.
But there is a growing revolt against mandatory detention too, with cracks in the immigration bureaucracy. ACOSS, the Australian Medical Association, St Vincent de Paul, the ACTU, as well as business leaders like Heather Ridout have all spoken out against it.
As Labor’s National Conference in December approaches, opposition inside Labor has also surfaced. Left MPs spoke out against Gillard’s push for offshore processing, and Labor for Refugees is mobilising for the conference. But Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen say they want to move that the conference endorse the government’s stalled efforts at expanding offshore processing in Malaysia and elsewhere.
Refugees are people who have lived through horror and persecution that most of us can barely imagine—fleeing war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka.If the Gillard government can’t find the political courage to change direction, we will need to keep campaigning. The refugee movement fought Howard to a standstill. Join us to rally outside Labor’s national conference in December to demand that Gillard changes course too.