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Newsletter for 10 April 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Brief RAR conference report
Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana, Coffs, April 19th 2:30pm
Next market stall - Coffs Harbourside 22nd April
Nauru cuts appeals to Australian courts
The "vision" of Peter Dutton

This week's newsletter comes to you from Albury-Wodonga
Brief RAR conference report
The weekend conference was attended by more than 300 people from around Australia. It was superbly organised by the national RAR executive group and it was a truly memorable event. We had outstanding keynote speakers, including Julian Burnside QC, Madeline Gleeson, Gillian Triggs, Thomas Albrecht and Professor Stuart Hill. There were workshops on both days on a wide range of relevant topics; a debate  between two local high schools on the subject of "Australia is a compassionate country for refugees", adjudicated by Julian Burnside; an informal discussion on stage between Cathy McGowan MP and Senator Nick McKim, and much, much besides. The three of us who attended from our RAR group agreed that we had learned a great deal, and that we had benefitted enormously from interacting with other delegates, including a significant number of refugees who had settled in the area.
In the weeks ahead, we will receive a detailed conference report which we will post on our blog.

Roadside demonstration report
We had a small but enthusiastic band of supporters at our roadside demonstration in Toormina last week. As usual, the response from passing motorists was overwhelmingly positive, and at times enthusiastic! Our next demonstration will be on Thursday 19th April by the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. Please consider coming to join us if you can, as these demonstrations present a real opportunity to remind the public about the cruelty and inhumanity of our government's treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Valla Beach Market report
A big thank you to all the volunteers who turned up to help at the market on Saturday. It was a fairly quiet market, but we collected signatures on the open letter to Bill Shorten and signed up some new supporters. Our next market stall will be at the Coffs Harbourside market on Sunday 22nd April from 9.00am until 1.30 pm. If you are able to help for an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:

Nauru government abolishes appeals to the  High Court of Australia.
Since 1976, the High Court in Canberra has been Nauru's final court of appeal, but recently, and secretly, the Nauruan government, perhaps with the encouragement of our government, has abolished the arrangement, which will have a negative impact on asylum seekers on the island. In recent years, eleven asylum seekers have appealed to the High Court in Canberra in relation to their failed refugee applications, and all but one of them had their rejection successfully overturned.   This action by the Nauruan government places yet another obstacle in the way of asylum seekers in their bid for refugee status, which is deeply disturbing.

Minister Dutton sets out his "vision".
In a wide-ranging interview in the Guardian last week, minister Dutton tells the reporter "Of course I want to be Prime Minister". He also, very worryingly, says that he wants Australia, together with "like-minded countries" to review the relevance of the 1951 refugee convention. It is somewhat reminiscent of George W Bush, at the height of the illegal invasion of Iraq, telling the world that the International  Declaration of Human Rights was "just a piece of paper". Minister Dutton has demonstrated time and again that the rule of law is often an inconvenience, to be circumvented increasingly by ministerial discretion. Sadly, it is clear in the article that he does not seem  to understand the difference between conviction and principle. He is certainly a politician with strong convictions, but frequently demonstrates his lack of principles.

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