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Our local RAR Newsletter May, 2021


Our recent roadside demonstration in Coffs Harbour was a great success. For the first time in more than a year, our ranks reached double figures, and we were delighted to welcome back a number of supporters who we hadn’t seen for a while. The response from passing motorists, who couldn’t fail to be impressed by the number of placards and banners on display, was very positive.


Our next demonstration will take place on Saturday 22nd May from 10.00 until 11.30 am on Waterfall Way in Bellingen. You will find us at our usual location near the Yellow Shed, opposite the entrance to the golf club. Please join us if you can, to show your support for refugees and asylum seekers.



We had a beautiful warm and sunny day for our market stall on Saturday, and we were kept busy by a steady stream of visitors to our stall, many of whom expressed their deep dismay about our government’s ongoing punitive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. We collected more than 150 signatures on our new open letter to the Leader of the Opposition, and more than $160 in donations and sales, all of which will be donated to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown.


A big thank you to the supporters who helped make the morning such a success.


Our next market stall will be at the Valla Beach market on Saturday 5th June from 9.00 am until 1.00 pm. If you can help out on our stall for an hour or two, then please let Mike know by emailing him at:, so that he can draw up a roster. New supporters are always welcome. Helping out at our markets is not an onerous task, and newcomers are always well briefed and supported.




As you will be aware, we recently posted an open letter to the Prime Minister which had been signed by more than 800 people. We now have a new letter, this time addressed to the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese. It reads:


Dear Mr. Albanese,

As the Labor Party reviews its policy platform in preparation for the federal election, we, the undersigned, urge the Party to adopt a principled and compassionate asylum policy which is consistent with our international obligations. At a minimum, we urge the Party to commit to:

·      Bringing all remaining refugees from Nauru and PNG to Australia for resettlement here or in other safe countries, including New Zealand.

·      Urgently reviewing and processing all outstanding asylum claims.

·      Releasing all remaining refugees and asylum seekers from APODs and other mainland detention centres, except where in individual cases there are overriding security issues.

·      Issuing all genuine refugees in Australia with Permanent Protection Visas.

A clear and principled asylum policy, articulated boldly, would attract significant community support.


If you would like to collect signatures from family, friends or colleagues, then please email Mike at:, and he will email a copy to you. It would be good if we could collect 1,000 signatures.



The government has decided to maintain the “temporary” pandemic-related reduction in our annual humanitarian refugee intake from 18,750 to 13,750 for at least the next three years. This comes at a time when there are more than 26 million refugees worldwide, most of them fleeing conflict, political upheaval or persecution in their homelands. The great majority of them are hosted in poor and developing countries which are already struggling to care for their own people, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. It is deeply disappointing that our government, the tenth most rich country in the world, has decided to do less for refugees when it could, and should, be doing more.


 The government has allocated $811 million in the budget for the continued detention of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and in PNG. There are currently 109 people detained on Nauru, and 130 in PNG, meaning that our government plans to spend $3.4 million next year keeping each of these 239 refugees and asylum seekers out of sight and out of mind, and demonstrating to the world that we are irresolutely tough on protecting our borders from those seeking asylum on our shores. The trauma and suffering that we have inflicted on these people over a period of almost eight years is unconscionable.


We must continue our campaigning until this shameful chapter in our country’s history is brought to an end.



Last week the government passed into law, with the support of Labor, amendments to the Migration Act which give the government the power to indefinitely detain refugees, potentially for the rest of their lives. The new law allows for the government, where it has cancelled the visa of a refugee but could not send them back to their country of origin because they would face persecution there, to detain them indefinitely. The new law also gives the minister a broad unchallengeable power to withdraw a person’s refugee status recognition – declaring they can be returned to the country from which they had fled.


Even the government-controlled joint parliamentary committee on human rights raised serious concerns about the law, arguing it presented a “real risk that detention may become indefinite” and “may also have implications for Australia’s obligation not to subject any person to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. These concerns do not appear to have troubled either the government or the opposition.

David Burke, the legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the legislation exposed the government’s willingness to leave growing numbers of refugees in detention without any plan.  He states:


 The government should not have the power to lock people up for potentially the rest of their lives without any safeguards. This forces refugees into an unthinkable choice between spending potentially decades in immigration detention, or agreeing to go back to a country where they will be persecuted. These new laws allow the Morrison government to warehouse people who have nowhere else to go.”


It should surely never be acceptable for a minister, at the stroke of a pen, to overturn the fundamental protection that the government has given, after due process, to someone whose life is at risk.

How did we get to this?

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