Index

Click on subject of interest shown on the right under the heading "labels" to see all relevant posts

To look at letters (and some replies) sent to politicians and newspapers, scroll down the index on the right hand side and select the appropriate heading.

Note the blog allows multiple labelling and all letters to politicians are under "letters to pollies".

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7.5.22

Vote To End the Cruelty to Refugees

The Liberal/National Government has now detained refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, in PNG and in various places of detention in Australia for just on 9 years. There have been some 14 deaths of detainees mostly by suicide, in Nauru and New Guinea over these years and many more of these people are suffering from serious long term mental health issues

The Government spends more than $4 million per refugee per year to keep 112 refugees out of sight and out of mind on the tiny island of Nauru.  That’s more than half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money every year!

As the federal election approaches the Government has announced a belated agreement to transfer 450 refugees over 3 years for settlement in New Zealand. The NZ offer has been on the table since 2013. These places offered by New Zealand are not nearly sufficient to assist the 1200 refugees currently requiring a solution to their continuing uncertainty and despair.

These people have committed no crime. They have made often terrifyingly dangerous journeys to escape war, conflict, persecution and torture in their home countries and then simply exercised their legal rights under the Refugee Convention to seek asylum in Australia.

These people should be released into the community where they can live, work, pay taxes and contribute their skills and expertise to our country

At the upcoming election the Coalition parties must be held to account for this expensive, cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees. The Labor Party has also never raised any serious concerns about these draconian Government policies.

At the next election I urge voters to vote for a candidate who will support-

A government that treats asylum seekers and refugees with fairness and humanity

A government which declares  that it will end the mandatory detention of people seeking safety

A government that offers permanent protection to genuine refugees

A government that supports refugees and helps them to rebuild their lives and contribute to our society

 

Paul Bartholomew

Boambee East

 

That is why I will vote for Caz Heise in the federal election on 21st May


 If not now, when?

Like so many people, I have become increasingly dismayed at what passes for political leadership and governance in our federal parliament. I’m shocked by the lack of integrity, I despair about the lack of serious action on climate change, and I’m angry about the way taxpayers’ money is so readily thrown around to shore up votes in Coalition and marginal seats.  I’m also concerned about growing wealth inequality, where the rich get richer, and more and more people sink into poverty and can’t afford even to rent a home. It’s disgraceful to see so much taxpayers’ money being thrown at wealthy private schools, whilst the public schools, which do all the heavy lifting, are seeing their funding reduced in real terms year on year. The Coalition clearly governs for the few, not the many, with the agenda set by the fossil fuels industry and other vested interests.  And finally, I am utterly dismayed by the government’s cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, who have suffered so much torment under this government.


We need a serious reset in the way we do politics in this country. We need a government, and we need parliamentarians, who strive to represent the many, not the few. Parliamentarians who work on behalf of their constituents, rather than for the big donors and lobbyists who dictate the policies of the major parties.


That is why I will vote for Caz Heise in the federal election on 21st May. She is a beacon of hopea person of real integrity, compassion and intelligence. She has a keen grasp of the issues that matter to the people of Cowper, and she is an excellent listener and communicator. I know that she will work tirelessly in Canberra for the people of Cowper and for a fairer and better Australia.


Mike Griffin

Valla Beach

2.5.22

The Refugee Council of Australia requests the following ....

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The government has called the 2022 Federal Election, and we're using this critical time to push for change for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. 

We're hoping you can help us. 

We're trying to have conversations with as many election candidates as we can, and we’re hoping you can support our work.   

This will build on the momentum created by the recent, positive announcements for refugees – the New Zealand deal finally going ahead, 16,500 places for people from Afghanistan, humanitarian visas for people from Ukraine, and people released from detention.   

We've put together resources for you to use: 

a) Our recommended top three priorities of the policy change we’d like to see from the new government THIS year;

b) Our updated Platform for Change, which outlines the changes we’d like to see made in the next term of government; and

c) An analysis of the three main parties policies measured against these recommendations.  

Can you raise the top three policy priorities with your local candidates?  

Here’s a three-step process to raise these issues – and it will take just 15 minutes.  

Step 1:  

Use this spreadsheet to find the contact details of the candidates in your electorate. Each electorate has been linked to the ABC's Electorates website which provides in-depth information about each seat. If you don't know it already, you can find your electorate here

Identify the two or three candidates in your electorate who are the most serious contenders or most likely to influence the outcome – generally the sitting MP or candidate for the party which holds the seat, other candidate/s for the major parties (Coalition and Labor), any high-profile or active Independent candidates and, in some seats, a candidate from another party which has previously attracted at least 20% of the vote in that electorate (see 2019 results on ABC's Electorates website).  

Step 2:  

Get in touch with the key candidates in one (or all three) of the following ways   

  • Call their office and request a meeting – citing our three priorities as the topic for discussion  
  • Attend an event they’ll be at (you can check what these are on their website)   
  • Email their office, highlighting the importance of the three priorities. Please write the email in your own words but here is some text you could consider adapting

Step 3:  

  • If you hear back from a candidate or have a conversation with them, please let us know – it'll be a great help for our future campaigning. Email us here  

We’ve also put together a Q&A document to help these conversations. We hope as many of you as possible can follow these actions to ensure we can continue this positive momentum at such a critical time.   

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions by emailing our Campaigns Officer.   

Thank you for your ongoing support, we cannot do our work without it.  

Warm regards,  

Paul Power  
CEO Refugee Council of Australia

 

Refugee Council of Australia · Australia · ABN: 87 956 673 083
This email was sent to bellingen.rar@gmail.com. To stop receiving emails, click here.
You can also keep up with Refugee Council of Australia on Twitter or Facebook.

Refugee Council of Australia


11.4.22

THE FEDERAL ELECTION IS UNDER WAY; WHAT HOPE FOR REFUGEES?

 

THE FEDERAL ELECTION IS UNDER WAY

WHAT HOPE FOR REFUGEES?

For more than two decades we have witnessed the terrible depths to which the major political parties have been prepared to descend in order to convince voters that each of them is tougher on “border protection” and “national security” than the other. Under Coalition governments, we have had the Tampa affair, the “children overboard” falsehoods and the constant demonisation of asylum seekers as potential terrorists, rapists, child abusers and job-stealers. We have shifted from a focus on compassion and our human rights obligations to one of fomenting fear and spreading misinformation. Securing votes at elections, whatever the human cost, is now all that matters. Honesty and integrity come a very poor second. In all this fog of misinformation and scaremongering, the real voices and stories of refugees have been excluded from the national narrative.

 

A DECADE OF PUNISHMENT AND INHUMANITY

 

For the past decade, since the establishment of Operation Sovereign Borders, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been deliberately treated with terrible, organised and spirit-crushing cruelty. Twelve men died in the detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island. Many hundreds suffered serious mental health problems. They were constantly reminded that they would never be resettled in Australia and that they should consider returning to the danger that they had fled. Doctors and others who visited the centres described the conditions as akin to torture.

 


 

Refugees who were brought to Australia from Nauru and PNG for urgent medical treatment have been locked in detention of various kinds for up to two years until recent weeks. Many of them have not received the medical care that they need, and their incarceration has made their condition worse. We have robbed them of the best years of their lives.

 

Other refugees who arrived in Australia before the election of the Abbott government find themselves on temporary rather than permanent protection visas. Australia is one of the few countries in the developed world that keeps refugees in limbo in this way. These people live with continuous uncertainty, and are not permitted to be reunited with their families. Inevitably, all these people live in a state of permanent uncertainty. They are denied the opportunity to resettle permanently and rebuild their lives, and to put the trauma of their past lives behind them.

 

CAN THE ELECTION CHANGE ANYTHING?

 

The fact that the federal election is imminent has already brought some welcome, though very belated changes to government policy. Agreement has been reached with the New Zealand government to resettle 450 of OUR refugees over three years. Refugees are suddenly being released from hotel and other places of detention into the community. These actions, though very welcome, need to be seen for what they are: yet another cynical act by a government which is worried about its chances of re-election.

 



Refugees deserve much more than this.

We need:

·      A government which treats asylum seekers and refugees with fairness and humanity.

·      A government which declares that it will end the offshore mandatory detention of people seeking safety.

·      A government which offers permanent protection to genuine refugees.

·      A government which supports refugees, and helps them to rebuild their lives, and contribute to our society.

 


 

VOTE FOR CHANGE

Published by Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR. bellingen.rar@gmail.com       April 2022

4.4.22

Letter to the Editor re local RAR activities

 Dear Editor,

The recent Bellingen market was a lively and busy morning with so many stallholders enjoying the crowds of shoppers. As usual our RAR stall in support of refugees had great support from locals and tourists. Most people who visited the stall were happy to sign the latest letter we propose to send to the Prime Minister to urge him and his government to show greater compassion to refugees and to desist from using them as a political football in the run up to the election. Many visitors expressed the view that they would like to see government policies change in relation to offshore detention and the inhumane treatment of refugees.

We would like to thank market organisers for the work that they do to manage the market and coordinate the events of the morning. They do a great job and the challenge of it has been considerable so far this year due to Covid and the weather . Their hard work is much 

appreciated. 

With thanks,

Marlene G.

28.3.22

Letter: Dear Minister Andrews,

Dear Minister Andrews,

Like everyone that I know, I was very pleased to read about the announcement of the agreement to settle 450 refugees in New Zealand over a three-year period.

It should not, however, have taken nine years to finalise. Nine years of suffering, nine years of shattered lives, nine years of despair. It is truly shameful that the Coalition government has been responsible for this deliberate cruelty, inflicted on people whose only “crime” was to flee their countries in fear of their lives, in the hope of seeking safety in Australia. For nine years, they have been vilified, mistreated and used as political pawns in an utterly unseemly contest to prove which party is the toughest on “border security”.

The finalising of this agreement , welcome as it is, will be widely regarded, given its timing, as yet another cynical ploy to win votes at the upcoming federal election. I can only hope that many Australians will see through this, and that the Coalition will be punished at the polls for its complete lack of moral integrity.

Mike G.....

Valla Beach NSW 2448

26.3.22

Our street stall in Bellingen

 

"We had a really busy time on Friday with our street stall in Bellingen, notwithstanding the showery weather. More than 140 people signed our open letter to the Prime Minister; we sold all of Marlene’s now-famous gift cards, which raised $155 and we collected $146 in donations . That’s another $301 for the asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown. 


People who visited the stall were very supportive of our efforts, and mostly expressed varying degrees of anger and despair with the Coalition government. Whilst very happy to learn about the agreement to resettle  450 refugees in New Zealand over three years, there was great anger that this offer has been on the table since 2013, and is being taken up now purely in an attempt to improve the Coalition’s electoral prospects." Mike

20.3.22

Our RAR Planning Meeting, March 2022

 

RAR PLANNING MEETING:  MONDAY 15TH MARCH 2022

 


Present: Sue, Susan, Jill, Hilary, Marlene, Paul and Mike.

Apologies: Margie, Georgie, Peter, Barbara, Maureen and Gillian

 

Our key objectives:

To seek an end to the current inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. We want the next government to comply fully with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention. We want an end to the arbitrary detention onshore and offshore of refugees, with permanent protection visas for all those who have been found to be entitled to protection under our international obligations. We want a fair and just process for people seeking asylum who are currently living in our community, with appropriate support and a reasonable timeframe for the resolution of their protection claims. We want the NZ offer of an annual intake of 150 refugees to be taken up urgently, with priority given to the men still stuck offshore in PNG and Nauru. We want an immediate, significant, increase in our annual refugee humanitarian intake. Currently our intake numbers are the lowest in 45 years, in spite of the ever-growing number of refugees globally.


 

Issues and actions:

 

 ·      Agreed that we would try to put a roster of letter writers together for the next two months. Paul will take care of the Coffs NOTA and Hilary will take the lead for the Bellingen paper. (Jill adds: We should consider also the Port Macquarie NOTA? Are there any others in Cowper?). Mike is happy to provide talking points, and where possible, photos. We will ask Margie if she is willing to coordinate the operation.

 

·      Agreed that we will produce written questions to send to candidates. Mike will draft and circulate for comment.

 

·      We agreed that wherever possible we would attend Meet the Candidates events once we know where and when they are scheduled. Jill will try to find out and report back.

 

·      Agreed that we would not hold a rally for refugees, but that we would make the next Coffs Harbour market (24th April) an election-focused event.

 

·      Mike will produce a draft election leaflet and will circulate for comment.

 

·      We have five new placards with an election focus. Mike will make a new banner. The consensus was for: “Vote fair go for refugees”.

 

·      We will seek opportunities to gain media attention for our activities leading up to the election.

 

·      Given the new location of Conaghan’s office, we agreed that a demo was not practical.

 

·      We are not politically aligned, so we can’t offer a platform to any one candidate. We will, however, be supportive of any candidate who supports our objectives, as outlined above.

 

·      We agreed to hold a second and final meeting in early April. Mike will circulate some possible dates to all the people listed above. 

 

·      We need someone to volunteer to liaise with other groups in Cowper, including, but not limited to, Amnesty International and Port Macquarie refugee support group.

 

·      We are not politically aligned, so we can’t offer a platform to any one candidate. We will, however, be supportive of any candidate who supports our objectives, as outlined above.

 

·      We agreed to hold a second and final meeting in early April. Mike will circulate some possible dates to all the people listed above. 

 

·      We need someone to volunteer to liaise with other groups in Cowper, including, but not limited to, Amnesty International and Port Macquarie refugee support group.

Mike

15.3.22

 





16.3.22

Response from Minister Andrew's office to our RAR letter to P.M. Morrison

Our RAR Planning Committee

"A few days ago I received a reply from the Dept of Home Affairs to my letter to Morrison which included the signatures on our open letter.

It’s the usual cut and paste job, but has some priceless assertions, such as “Immigration detention is used as a last resort and where possible, unlawful non-citizens are managed in the community.” It goes on to state: “The decision to place a person in held immigration detention is based on an assessment of risk.”

None of this is true, of course, but it seems not to matter.

A change of government can’t come soon enough!"

Mike


Dear Mr Mike Griffin

Thank you for your correspondence to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP,

concerning the release of refugees from detention. Your correspondence has been referred to

the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, as the matter raised falls within her

portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring this matter

to her attention and has asked that I reply on her behalf.

I appreciate the concerns you have raised in your correspondence. Please note that due to

privacy considerations, it would be inappropriate to provide you with specific details pertaining

to a person in immigration detention, or comment on their immigration status, without their

expressed permission. However, I can provide you with the following general information.

The Migration Act 1958 (the Act) creates a statutory framework regulating the entry and stay of

non-citizens in Australia. Under the Act, non-citizens who do not hold a visa are liable for

detention.

Immigration detention is used as a last resort and where possible, unlawful

non-citizens are managed in the community. Where appropriate, detainees may be detained

in an alternative place of detention, such as a hotel or apartment-style accommodation, rather

than inside an immigration detention facility. Decisions about the most appropriate

immigration detention accommodation are determined on a case-by-case basis and involve

consideration of the safety and security of detainees, service providers, visitors and staff. In

making placement decisions, medical needs are given priority, and family and community links

are carefully considered.

The decision to place a person in held immigration detention is based on an assessment of

risk. The lengths and conditions of immigration detention, including the appropriateness of the

accommodation and services provided, are subject to regular review by senior officers of the

Department of Home Affairs, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human

Rights Commission. These reviews consider the lawfulness and appropriateness of

a person’s detention, their detention arrangements and placement, health and welfare,

and other matters relevant to their ongoing detention and case resolution.

Under the Act, detention is not limited by a set timeframe; rather, it ends when the person

either is granted a visa or is removed from Australia. This is dependent upon a number of

factors, including identity determination, developments in country information and the

complexity of processing due to individual circumstances relating to health, character or

security matters.

All persons who are in immigration detention are assigned a departmental Status Resolution

Officer to assist in progressing their case to resolution. If they have any questions regarding

their immigration pathway or options, he/she should contact their status resolution officer.

As you may be aware, Portfolio Ministers have personal intervention powers under the Act

which allow them to grant a visa to a person if they think it is in the public interest to do so.

The intervention powers are non-compellable, that is, the Ministers are not required to

exercise their power. Further, what is in the public interest is a matter for the Ministers to

determine.

The Minister’s guidelines describe the types of cases that might be referred for consideration.

All requests are assessed against these guidelines. Only cases that meet the guidelines are

referred for the Minister’s consideration. Ministerial Intervention is not an extension of the visa

process

Thank you for raising this matter with the Minister.

Yours sincerely

Toni Najdov

Immigration and Settlement Services Group

Department of Home Affairs

10 March 2022

 Our original letter to P.M. Morrison

Dear Mr. Morrison,

Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to you, and signed by 616 Australians who have visited our


Rural Australians for Refugees stall at local markets in recent times. The letter reads:

“We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the plight of the 30,000 so-called legacy caseload of refugees who for almost a decade have been trapped in the legal limbo of temporary protection visas.

Australia is the sole signatory to the UN Refugee Council with a formal system for providing refugees with indefinite temporary, rather than permanent, protection. The UNHCR has described the policy as both “punitive” and “cruel”.

Temporary protection leaves this vulnerable group in perpetual uncertainty and fear. Requiring them to relive their trauma every three or five years is both cruel and unnecessary. Prohibiting family reunion, access to student loans and other benefits makes it well-nigh impossible for these people to rebuild their lives and to finally call Australia home.

We call on the government to end this cruel policy and to finally grant these people permanent protection. It is time to show some compassion and humanity.”

This group of people, all of them refugees who have demonstrated their right to our protection, present no threat to the Australian people. To continue to assert, as your government frequently does, that the current policy setting is designed to “keep Australia safe, and save lives at sea” is both absurd and indefensible. The Australian navy and air force have ensured that no asylum seeker boats have arrived on our shores since 2014. Let us not forget that you have a trophy in the form of a boat in your office which proudly proclaims: “I stopped these.”

It is time to end the cruel policy of temporary protection, which serves no useful purpose, and which condemns so many people to a life of uncertainty and fear.

Please show some compassion for these people, and give them the permanent protection that they so desperately need, and to which they are entitled under international law.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Griffin

Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees