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Newsletter 22 July 2015 - Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi Everyone

This newsletter is stored here for archival purposes. You can read it by clicking on "read more" below

This newsletter is being sent out early to give you time to consider becoming involved in the picket on Thursday.

Thursday Picket of Luke Hartsuker MP's office 23 July 

Don't forget our Thursday Picket outside Luke Hartsuyker's office every Thursday between 10am and Noon. Bring a placard and join our dedicated team sending a message to our government. 

We seek to keep the pressure up on the government over their horrendous policy. 

Luke's office is at 39 Little St Coffs Harbour. We hope to make this a weekly event. Coffs Growers market is on at the same time so give our MP a message and then go an support our local producers.

 Our local member of Parliament continues to uncritically support the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. He is a senior member of a government which seeks to shroud its asylum policy activities in secrecy and which now threatens doctors, nurses and other support workers with imprisonment if they speak out about the abuses which they observe in these gulags. It’s time to let Mr Hartsuyker know that we are enraged by his government’s actions and that we will continue to make our feelings known. 

 If anyone can make a commitment for a couple of hours on a Thursday morning to support this action, then please email Robin at :

You might want to commit to just one session a month, or whatever you feel that you can manage. If a number of people are prepared to do a little, then it can add up to something significant. On behalf of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus,  please support Robin if you can.

John Pollock was interviewed on local ABC radio on Tuesday 21 July, and made a strong argument against the cruelty and cost of offshore detention.

Luke Hartsuyker's priorities
letter to newspaper

Dear Editor

Recently readers may have received a mail-out from our federal member, Luke Hartsuyker.  Among the issues he wishes you to prioritise is "securing Australia's borders".  Sounds scary, doesn't it?  Are Islamic State battleships arranged on the horizon, about to attack?

No, the terrifying craft lurching toward our shores, intent on invasion, is a leaky, creaky fishing boat whose passengers are ordinary people fleeing misery.  A terrorist would come safely by plane.   These refugees are running away from terrorism. 

Among those passengers might be a young girl from a county where it is unsafe to go to school because of religious extremists.  She may be persecuted because she belongs to a particular ethnic group.  She may have seen her friend blown up by a road-side bomb or killed by machete in an attack on a village.  A relative may have been tortured and murdered by a bloody regime.

But Mr Hartsuyker wants to protect you from this nasty young girl.  If he has his way, her boat will be sent back.  He doesn't want her to come here and apply for asylum, which she is legally entitled to do.  If she makes it here, he'll incarcerate her behind barbed wire for an indefinite period, so there's no danger you will come into contact with this modern-day Anne Frank.

But wait!  There's someone else of whom you should be afraid: doctors and nurses!  Hartsuyker's government has passed the Border Force Act, which will protect us from the disturbing communications and nefarious activities of any health professional who would be so rashly ethical as to blow the whistle on any abuse of asylum seeker patients.  A person demonstrating such concern and compassion will be gagged could be gaoled.

Meanwhile, more densely-populated European countries are dealing with the current migration crisis by each welcoming ten times our annual humanitarian intake.  The Coalition and Labor seem happy to send those who seek our help to the off-shore concentration camps.  The Greens oppose the cruelty and secrecy of such treatment.

Why does Mr Hartsuyker want you to be scared?  So that he can adopt the posture of being tough on border security and you will vote for him.  He doesn't want to bother you with leadership that is based on higher ethical principles; he doesn't want to trouble you with trying to make Australia a better, more compassionate society.  He just wants a safe seat.

Yours faithfully


Coffs Harbour Market last Sunday
We ventured north on Sunday for our first market stall at the Jetty market in Coffs Harbour with a small band of enthusiastic supporters. It was a very positive experience, with lots of interest from members of the public, who were almost universally dismayed at the government’s treatment of asylum seekers and at the complicity of the Labor opposition. (photo attached) 

We collected an impressive 75 signatures for our new petition, which is addressed to Bill Shorten, the leader of the Labor opposition.  The petition is attached. 

It would be great if you could collect signatures for the petition and return them to our market stall at Valla Beach ( Saturday 1st August) or  Bellingen (Saturday 19 September).

Alternatively you can post your completed sheets to Mike at 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach, NSW 2448.
Valla Market Saturday 1st August.

Our next market stall will be at the Valla Beach Reserve on Saturday 1st August. John and Mike will be setting up at 7.00 am as usual and we are looking for volunteers from 8.00 am onwards. It’s a great opportunity to meet people and to show solidarity for the plight of asylum seekers, especially those held in indefinite detention on the mainland or on Manus or Nauru. We will be handing out information sheets, collecting signatures for our petition and we will be a strong visual presence. Politicians need to understand that we will not be silenced and that we will continue to advocate peacefully and steadfastly for the just and humane treatment of asylum seekers. So if you can spare an hour or two to join us on 1st August, please email Mike at:  or phone him on 6569 5419.
Many of you will be familiar with the Australian charity Chilout, which campaigns for the release of children from detention centres. We collect for them at our market stalls and send them contributions from time to time. Following recent markets, we have this week sent $65 to Chilout to help support their work.


Refugee Council calls for urgent answers on asylum seekers

21 July 2015. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has called on the Australian Government to urgently release details regarding the welfare of people on board the asylum seeker boat identified off the Western Australian coast.

RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the Australian people deserved to be told what is happening to the people on board the boat and the relatives of those aboard would be desperate to know the situation of their loved ones.

“The Immigration Minister needs to release information about how many people are on the boat and where they have come from, including the numbers of children, babies and pregnant women. Families in the countries of origin need assurance all people on the boat are safe and well,” Mr Power said.

“Shrouding the matter in secrecy by claiming this is an ‘on water matter’ is unacceptable. We don’t know how long these people have been at sea, how many people are aboard nor where they have departed from. Their welfare needs to be the first consideration.

“Yesterday, a Senate committee inquiry heard yet again of the harmful impacts of the Government’s culture of secrecy and its dehumanisation of asylum seekers with more information coming to light about the abuse of children and other forms of sexual abuse in the Australian-funded detention centre on Nauru.

“Many Australians are not buying the Government’s argument that its heavy-handed and secret military operations are appropriate responses to people who, in accordance with international law, are trying to seek asylum.

“The desperate search for effective protection from persecution is a humanitarian issue, not a threat to Australia’s national security. Australia needs to ensure that people seeking refugee protection have an opportunity to put their case, have it fairly assessed and be treated humanely throughout the process.

“It’s time to end the secrecy and assure the Australian people that those on board this boat are safe and being treated fairly and that no one will be forced back to their country of origin without a full assessment of their need for protection from persecution,” Mr Power said.

For more information contact Tim O’Connor 0488 035 535


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