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Letter to Luke Hartsuyker MP 23 April 2014

Eungai Creek NSW 2441
23 April 2014
Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP
PO Box 2056
Coffs Harbour 2450

Dear Mr Hartsuyker
I used to be proud to be Australian; to be a citizen of a nation that led the world in moral matters, that believed in a fair go, that had a government devoted to humanity and social progress.  Now we have a government so ethically debased that it is prepared to use the benighted and disadvantaged asylum seekers as political pawns in the game of petty power politics. 
Your government has manipulated and maligned the most powerless, has sacrificed the vulnerable in the pursuit of getting elected.  In so doing, you have demeaned your office, you have committed systematic cruelty and you have appealed to the lowest in humanity, reducing our once noble nation to an assembly of the mean-spirited.  I am ashamed.

I have some questions to which I would appreciate your considered answers:

Do you support locking up children and pregnant women?

Do you think PNG or Nauru can really support refugees for ever?  The Amnesty International report into conditions on Manus was absolutely damning and the latest outbreak of mosquito-borne disease on Nauru is a symptom of the inadequacy of these off-shore concentration camps.

Do you think spending billions of dollars on a few thousand people is wise for the country as a whole? Would it not make better economic sense to hold these people only for as long as required for basic health and security checks, before releasing them into the community, where they could obtain work and independence, as happens in other countries?  Why are we locking these people up instead of processing them, when we know the vast majority will prove to be genuine refugees?

How do you plan to protect the rights of children who arrive with no parent or adult family members? How can it be in the best interests of any child to be sent away from Australia and into remote, indefinite detention with no certainty around resettlement even if the child is a refugee?  Should one child be punished in the hope of helping another? You have children: how would you feel about your children being locked up in a remote detention centre?  I am a mother and I would find it agonisingly insupportable.

What are your thoughts on the suicides and mental harm caused by indefinite, remote detention?

If we don't increase the number of refugees we take from Indonesia and Malaysia we are not saving any lives, they are just not dying in our ocean near our media attention. They remain home and die or are completely unsafe stuck in limbo between their homes and Australia, often for decades.  These inhumane off-shore gulags are not about ‘saving lives at sea’: please do not insult our intelligence with this manipulative, fraudulent posture.

If we deny refugees family reunion we are actually going to attract whole families on boats out of desperation, not just fathers or husbands.   What is your view on this matter?
How did your forebears come to Australia?  Did they come seeking a better life for themselves and their families?  Does that mean they were brave and enterprising?  Does that mean they were economic refugees?  Or were they fleeing persecution?  Did they have a right to come here?
In the name of justice and humanity, I wish to see an end to mandatory detention, an end to the persecution of people who have no choice but to arrive by boat without visas, an end to the deliberate infliction of misery upon these victims with the malicious aim of making them abandon hope and return to countries where they are in danger. I would like to see Australia live up to its responsibilities under the United Nations Convention for the treatment of asylum seekers.  I am mortified we are denying them freedom of movement, access to education and the other human rights to which they are entitled.
I wish to see an end to the travesty of democracy where love of country is corrupted to xenophobia, where a propaganda war is waged against the voiceless and the vulnerable, where compassion is thwarted in the service of political careers.   I want to see an end to the denial of human rights to legitimate claimants that has brought international shame on our once great nation.
You do not represent me when you vilify the persecuted and the suffering.
Yours faithfully