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Letter to Minister Dutton

Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharnicaa.
Dear Minister Dutton,

I was pleased to read the reports about the significant number of detainees who have recently been released from MITA and from the Melbourne APOD. I trust that the remaining detainees in Melbourne and Brisbane will be released into the community in the days ahead, now that you have discovered that this is a cheaper option.

These men have endured years of suffering and torment at the hands of the Australian government.  Many of them require significant and ongoing medical treatment. All of them need to be reassured that they are now safe and can look forward to permanent resettlement in Australia, the US or New Zealand. We owe them no less. We have a shared obligation to allow them to rebuild their lives, to feel secure and to be valued as members of the community.

To that end, I call on you and the government to take the necessary steps, and to provide the appropriate support, for all of these men to embark on a pathway to permanent resettlement. Let us never forget that it is their right, under international law, to seek asylum in Australia, regardless of their mode of  arrival.

Given that, as you rightly observe, it is much cheaper to release asylum seekers and refugees into the community rather than hold them in detention, then surely this presents  an ideal opportunity to free the Sri Lankan family of four from their prison camp on Christmas Island and to return them to Biloela, where they will be welcomed with open arms by the local community. Why spend millions of taxpayers’ money in an attempt to keep them out of sight and out of mind – something that, to date, you have failed to achieve?

And why is the government planning to spend in excess of $1 billion in this financial year in order to perpetuate the torment of some 270 people on Nauru and in PNG?

Please take the necessary and urgent steps to bring to an end the untold misery that has been inflicted on all of these people. It is time to bring this terrible and deeply shameful chapter in our history to an end.

Yours sincerely,

Mike G.

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