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Letter to Acting Minister Tudge: These people have suffered enough.

 Dear Acting Minister Tudge,

Sunday 19th July marked the seventh anniversary of the Rudd government’s announcement that people arriving in Australian waters seeking asylum would be detained in offshore detention centres and would never be allowed to settle in Australia. Seven years on, twelve men have died in offshore detention, many hundreds have suffered both physical and mental torment, families have been separated and lives have been ruined. To date, the cost of this cruel policy is approaching a staggering $8 billion. There are still some 400 refugees and asylum seekers trapped on Nauru and in PNG. Many hundreds more are held in detention in Australia. Some 120 people are stuck in hotels in Brisbane and Melbourne, having been transferred to Australia for urgent medical treatment, which many of them are yet to receive.

It is clear that your government has completely abrogated its responsibilities to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention. These asylum seekers have committed no crime, and yet, unlike convicted criminals, they have no release date. 

Why does your government continue to inflict such terrible punishment on these people? You cannot possibly argue that the policy serves as a deterrent to other would-be asylum seekers, given that our maritime borders are carefully patrolled by the Australian navy, effectively preventing people arriving by boat.
Why does the government continue to spend enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money on a policy that is irrelevant, cruel, immoral and unlawful? Our reputation as a good global actor has been steadily eroded sine the “Stop the Boats” sloganeering of the Abbott era. It is surely time for the government to adopt a more mature and humane approach to the issue.

This shameful chapter in our history could be brought to an end within months, if the government had a moral compass and the political will. It is surely time to accept the offer of the New Zealand government to resettle up to 150 refugees annually, to resettle those that remain offshore in Australia and to release into the community the many hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees currently languishing in APODs and detention centres in Australia.
These people have suffered enough. It’s time for you to act!

Yours sincerely,
M. Griffin

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