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Newsletter for 5 December 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Market report
Supporters meeting report
Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana Coffs Thursday December 7th 2:30pm
Where does our money go?
Manus Island update
NZ deal nearly gets up in Parliament

Valla Beach market report

Another good market at Valla Beach on Saturday. We had  a happy band of supporters handing out leaflets and talking to market-goers, and collected a fair number of signatures on our petition. This was our final market for 2017. A big thank you to all the supporters who have helped out this year. A great team effort! We’ll publish the details of our planned markets for 2018 early in the New Year.

Meeting and lunch for supporters report

Our meeting and lunch for supporters on Sunday was a great success, with 28 people taking part. We had  lots of lively and constructive discussion about our activities this year and plans for 2018. There was strong support for the key elements of our current advocacy work, and a clear determination to keep up the fight to bring about an end to the cruel policy of offshore detention – a policy supported by the Liberals, the Nationals and Labor. We are completely committed to continue with our campaigning , and we hope that, in 2018, more of our supporters will participate in our many and varied activities.
Lunch on the deck, in beautiful sunshine and with delicious food that people had brought along, was enjoyed by all. And the raffle raised $140!

Roadside demonstration: The Big Banana: Thursday 7th December

Our final roadside demonstration for 2017 will take place this Thursday, 7th December for 2.30 to 4.00 pm by the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. It would be great to end our demos on a high note with a big turnout at this popular location. The government is now under significant pressure in relation to the terrible situation on Manus island, so it is more important than ever that we keep the issue in the public eye. Please consider coming along to join us if you can. We have lots of banners and placards to share.

Where does our money go?

At our meeting on Sunday we were presented with the details of our  income and expenditure for the past twelve months.  Our income amounted to $7,010 from market sales, donations and fundraising. We donated $2,150 to the Asylum Seekers Centre and $2,537 to the Refugee Advice and Casework Services. Both organisations rely very heavily on donations and volunteers to carry out their vital work in assisting asylum seekers and refugees currently living in Australia. They could not  do their work without generous support from groups like ours.

Manus Island update

The cruelty on Manus island goes on, whilst Minister Dutton ties himself in knots whilst attempting to convince us that there is plenty of adequate accommodation  on Manus for the remaining detainees. Amidst denials that any detainees were mistreated in their forcible transfer to the three locations around Lorengau, a group of doctors from Medecins Sans Frontieres have been denied access to the centres. They report that the medical and mental health needs of the detainees require urgent intervention,  that there are medical facilities in only one of the three centres, and that, furthermore, these facilities are basic, and not adequate to deal with the detainees’ complex and serious needs. To add to the problems, it has been reported that key support staff in the new compounds have been evacuated amid concerns for their safety, due to opposition to their presence from locals.
Let’s keep up the pressure to bring this catastrophe to an end. Give Malcolm Turnbull a ring on: (02) 6277 7700 or (02) 9327 3988.  Give Bill Shorten a ring on: (02) 6277 4022 or (03) 9326 1300.

Proposal to Accept NZ refugee offer almost gets up in parliament

Yesterday in Parliament the Senate agreed a resolution to accept the New Zealand government’s offer to take 150 refugees from Manus and Nauru. The issue then went to the House of Representatives, where the Greens MP Adam Bandt tabled the resolution, which was supported by Labor. The  initial vote was 73 to 72 in favour, but later two  Coalition absentees returned to the chamber and the matter went to a second vote and was narrowly lost by 74  votes to 73.
It is beyond disgraceful that our government refuses to accept this humanitarian gesture on the part of the NZ government which would have alleviated the terrible suffering for some of the refugees languishing in offshore detention. However,  we should be encouraged that the Labor opposition, for the first time, has actually opposed the government’s cruel policy, given that, until today, it has been totally complicit in inflicting terrible suffering on innocent people.
Please telephone the Prime Minister  to condemn the government’s actions. Please also telephone Luke Hartsuyker on 6652 6233 to express your dismay that he voted against the resolution.

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