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Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 10th December 2019

Valla Beach market report

Bush, Beach and Bash update

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 12th December, Coffs Harbour

World Human Rights Day: Tuesday 10th December

Medevac laws repealed

Medevac. So, what is the “secret deal”?

Valla Beach market report
Saturday’s market was a busy event, with lots of people arriving to buy their fresh fruit and vegetables and hunt for Christmas presents. We had an excellent spot under the trees in a busy location and there were many visitors to our stall. People were very keen to sign our open letter to the Prime Minister, and many of them expressed their anger and despair at the repeal of the medevac legislation in the Senate last week. A big thank you to the thirteen supporters who turned up at different times to lend a hand. We remain a strong and resilient team!
This was our final market for 2019. We will post details of our market calendar for 2020 in the first newsletter of the new year, but in the meantime, you might like to put the Bellingen market on Saturday 18th January 2020 in your diary.

Bush, Beach and Bash update
Following last week’s social and fundraising event, we received a further $60 in donations from supporters who were unable to attend, bringing the total raised to $965. We’ll give you a final update on our 2019 fundraising for the Asylum Seekers Centre in next week’s newsletter.

Roadside demonstration: Thursday 12th December, Coffs Harbour
Our final roadside demonstration for the year will be this Thursday, 12th December, by the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour, opposite the base hospital, from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. Please join us if you can, to help us show our steadfast commitment to the refugees and asylum seekers in Australia and offshore who continue to suffer at the hands of our cruel government, which seems to be completely lacking in empathy and compassion.

World Human Rights Day: Tuesday 10th December
World Human Rights Day is a day that marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a document which our government helped to write. Our nation signed up to uphold and protect the human rights of all people, including those who came here to seek asylum. Instead, our government’s punitive laws and policies are deliberately designed to humiliate and punish some of the most vulnerable people on the planet who fled their countries to seek safety and protection on our shores. Instead of helping them, we have created systems aimed at crushing their spirits, ruining their health and forcing many of them to return to danger, in clear contravention of our international obligations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
Article 14. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
It is clear, and deeply shameful, that our government is falling well short of the obligations that it entered into when it signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Medevac laws repealed
Sadly, but perhaps predictably, Senator Lambie sided with the government last week, thereby allowing the repeal of the medevac legislation. Once again, it will be bureaucrats, rather than doctors, who will make decisions about whether or not a detainee on Nauru or in PNG should be transferred to Australia for medical treatment which cannot be adequately provided offshore.
All the evidence is that the medevac legislation was working exactly as it was meant to do. Lives have undoubtedly been saved. We now return to the previous regime, where deliberate delays are built into the system, and where the recommendations of doctors will be routinely overridden by bureaucrats in Canberra. As before, lawyers will have to intervene on behalf of patients, and, as before, the government will spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money in the courts in futile attempts to prevent transfers. And for what, we are entitled to ask? The only explanation seems to be that the government simply wants to demonstrate, yet again, that it is tough on “border security”, that only the Coalition can keep us safe, and that Labor cannot be trusted. In the end, it is all about politics, and has nothing at all to do with the humane treatment of sick refugees, who are but pawns in their games. It is a truly shameful and tragic state of affairs.
Interestingly, four doctors on the Coalition benches voted for the repeal of the legislation, notwithstanding their professional obligations to do no harm and to treat sick people without discrimination. They are Dr Katie Allen, who is a paediatrician, Dr Fiona Martin, who is a psychologist, Dr David Gillespie and Dr Andrew Laming. They all voted to give the power to assess the medical condition of seriously ill people to non-medical professionals. A staggering example of the power of ideology and self-interest to usurp professional ethics.

Medevac. So, what is the “secret deal”?
Much has been made in recent days of the so-called secret deal between Senator Lambie and the government, which vehemently denies that any deal exists. The consensus seems to be that a deal to resettle some refugees in New Zealand is finally on the table. But the government has been shifting its position on the NZ offer for some time. From a position of “this is never going to happen”, we received a letter from the Director of Regional Processing and Resettlement on 4th October, in which he states: “Australia appreciates the offer from the New Zealand Government to resettle refugees, however we are focused on completing the larger arrangement with the United States.” It is therefore reasonable to conclude that, once the US resettlement programme has run its course, the government will finally engage with the New Zealand government to resettle refugees in NZ. However, it is important to note that, since last week, government ministers have constantly referred to “getting people off Nauru.” There is no mention of the several hundred men in PNG, which is deeply concerning. We need to be very alert to this, and be prepared to campaign strongly in the New Year to get all refugees on Nauru and in PNG to places of safety.

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