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December 1, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) has dismissed Chris Bowen’s call for an increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake as nothing more than a shabby political ploy.

“Bowen knows there’ll be pressure on him from Labor for Refugees at the National Conference this weekend,” said Ian Rintoul, RAC spokesperson. “If this announcement was anything other than a smokescreen, he’d have presented a real timeline for the increase. But he’s done nothing of the sort.

“Bowen’s offer of an increased humanitarian intake is wholly conditional on support for the Malaysia agreement”, Rintoul continued. “No supporter of a humanitarian refugee policy should allow themselves to be taken in. You can’t consistently defend human rights if you are willing to trade the rights of one group for those of another. Malaysia is just the most vicious and inexcusable element in Bowen’s punishment of refugees.

“His talk of the need to save lives at sea is hypocrisy pure and simple,” Rintoul continued. “How many times does it have to be pointed out? Any refugees prevented from coming to Australia by government policies will just undertake other dangerous journeys to Europe or America, with just as much tragic loss of life. If the government cared about human lives as Bowen pretends, it’d put real solutions in place to process and bring refugees from Indonesia. And it wouldn’t be letting people rot in detention in Australia.”

“Mr Bowen says we have an obligation to people waiting in refugee camps. But we also have an obligation to the people who risk everything to ask Australia for help directly. What could be more obvious than the obligation we have to help people who are asking us for help? There’s no “either–or” here. We should be taking more people from the camps, AND welcoming refugees who have no choice but to come here by boat.”

“Bowen and Gillard’s determination to pit the boats against the camps is contemptible. People’s suffering and misery are the same whether they’re watching their life slip away in a camp or risking it on a boat.”

‘Bowen and Gillard should listen to the majority of the public, which, as polls indicate, is against the Malaysia deal. They should listen to Melissa Parke and Anna Burke in the ALP itself calling for the humane refugee policy that Australia, and refugees, so desperately need.’


The Refugee Action Coalition will be holding a public demonstration outside the ALP conference on Sunday December 4. The protest will meet at Town Hall Square at 12 midday, before marching to the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour, where speeches will begin at 1pm. Speakers include Ged Kearney (President, ACTU), Shane Price (NSW Co-convenor, Labor for Refugees), Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition), as well as former refugees.

More information: Ian Rintoul (0417 275 713) or Nick Riemer (0435 533 027)

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