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Letter to Editor Sydney Morning Herald - asylum seeker vigil in Bellingen 19 July 2017

Letter to the Editor: Sydney Morning Herald

Dear editor,

I was born during the second war in which my father died before my birth. As a child I remember stories of my idea of Australian values; mateship, bravery, humour in awful circumstances, looking out for each other. 

I also remember a story during the battles against the Japanese in PNG, towards the end of the war. Two young soldiers were carrying a wounded Japanese prisoner to safety. One gave the prisoner a puff of his cigarette. The Japanese was astounded at the compassionate treatment he was receiving at the hands of these Australians.

Last evening with my husband, I attended a candle lit vigil on the fourth anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s statement that no asylum seekers attempting to get to Australia by boat will ever be settled here. 

In the intervening four years, in the detention centres we are responsible for on impoverished island neighbour’s land, five men have died due to violence and lack of adequate medical treatment. 

There are some 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers still languishing on Nauru and Manus, including 169 children. $5 billion have been spent to keep these people fleeing persecution off our soil, and this equates to spending $500,000 per year on each asylum seeker in order to keep them out of our sight.

In the past we fought with mateship, and looking out for each other. How are these values displayed in our current policy: making prisoners of those who come to us for help?

Malcolm Turnbull, is this your idea of Australian values? Is this anybody’s idea of Australian values? If not, let’s get together and make change.

Patricia Abell


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