#BlocktheBill Banning Refugees from Ever Setting Foot in Australia

I am getting tired of this. Yet again over the weekend the government have announced a new abhorrent law they wish to introduce. It would ban all refugees resettled in another country from ever setting foot in Australia. This is a move designed to shore up the far-right vote, wedge Labor and destroy the hope of refugees and asylum seekers currently in limbo on Nauru and Manus.

I heard Pauline Hanson crowing about it today. She believes that most refugees are economic. Yeah right. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013:

“More than 90 per cent of asylum seekers who arrived by boat were found to be genuine refugees in the March quarter [2013], figures to be released on Monday show. But those who arrived by plane – despite being eligible for release into the community and not having to face years of detention on Nauru or Manus Island – were almost twice as likely to be rejected as refugees.”

Yet, the fuss is always around boat arrivals! Honestly. Turnbull also virtually quoted Howard today. This is how low it’s sunk. Turnbull sold his soul to get the Prime Ministership.

We must act to express our displeasure at this new low. Write/email, call or visit your local MP’s office as well as contacting Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, Peter Dutton. The ASRC has put together a step-by-step approach for ringing MPs – here is a video about it (and why you should do it).

There are rallies in Australian capital cities on Saturday. These rallies have been organised for weeks as #BringThemHere rallies but now take on a different dimension. Please come along to one if you can.

There are better ways! More humane ways that actually benefit everyone in the long-term. This is just ridiculous…

The government are hypocrites. They call themselves Christians and yet it’s merely lip-service. If they were true to their faith, they’d bring them here, as suggested by a recent statement by Australian Bishops in support of refugees coming to Australia.

Below is an open letter I saw on a Facebook group, Refugee Action Collective, where it was displayed for sharing further. There are (perhaps) encouraging signs, with Bill Shorten and other Labor MPs speaking out about how awful this bill is. It remains to be seen what the final decision will be however, so let’s apply the pressure!

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek
Shadow Minister of Immigration Shayne Neumann

Australia now has one of the most hostile asylum seeker institutional arrangements in the world. We we have come to accept that refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly turned back with no concern for what their fates will be; that the 28,500 in Australia will remain forever in limbo; and that those hapless souls we have marooned on remote Pacific Islands should never be allowed to settle in Australia even after several years.

The raison d’etre for this blatant human rights abuse is that we need to stop people smugglers and secure our borders. I know many asylum seekers, they are forever grateful to the agent that organised their transit to Australia because otherwise they would be dead. So in the tradition of Oskar Schindler and Nicholas Winton let’s call these people ‘alternative migration agents’ because the narrative that imagines them as some evil human trafficking cartel is a lie. Let’s be honest, just for once. And let’s admit that as the forcible turnback to point of departure of boats has succeeded in halting their trade anyway, the detainees of Manus and Nauru are not much more or less than the errant black slaves that Americans hung from trees for the crows to eat as a warning to others. Manus and Nauru are our “strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees”. They are heads on pikes, dingoes hanging from a trophy tree. I can’t express how appalled I am by the Coalition’s intense pogrom on refugees. What exactly have these people done that they deserve such abject cruelty?

Late last year doctors and nurses at the Royal Children’s Hospital announced that they would not return the handful of gravely damaged children under their care to a detention centre in Melbourne. The Minister, Peter Dutton, responded by saying that the result of their irresponsible behaviour would be naval officers pulling the bodies of dead children from the ocean. That is insane. Now he claims the new Bill he plans to introduce is in response to advocates ‘giving hope to’ detainees. The man is consumed by his own evil. This nation has now come to reflect that notion in Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ of the banality of evil. We think it is normal to hurt refugees. Please don’t let it become our norm.

We all know there are humane alternatives to the current policies, and cheaper. We know we could fund the UNHCR to process refugees in Indonesia, Malaysia etc. and then assist their passage to Australia in an organised fashion that would obviate the need for ‘people smugglers’ and rickety fishing boats. Remember in 2008 when Howard closed Nauru, the boats did NOT start coming again.

So this week, for the sake of this poor nation’s blackened heart and for those desperate men, women and children on Manus and Nauru, I am asking you to block Dutton’s Bill to “make it illegal for asylum seekers who try to come to Australia by boat to ever enter, even as tourists”. 

Shayne Chester



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