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Press release after meeting with Luke Hartsuyker 24 Jan 2017

Press Release meeting with Luke Hartsuyker

Hartsuyker stands by Coalition’s asylum policy

A delegation representing the 500-strong local Rural Australians for Refugees group met on Tuesday 24th January with our Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker. The purpose of the meeting was to present him with a petition, signed by some 400 local people, which calls on the government to close the offshore centres on Manus Island and Nauru. The two centres have a history of inflicting untold harm and suffering on the detainees, who are held there indefinitely, at great financial cost to the Australian taxpayer. These people have committed no crime. They have fled wars and persecution in their home countries to seek safety for themselves and their families, as is their right under international law. The three-person delegation spent half an hour talking to Mr Hartsuyker – who remained passive and silent throughout – about the inhumanity, immorality and illegality of punishing men, women and children through a deliberate policy of cruelty aimed at deterring others from reaching our shores. They reminded Mr Hartsuyker about the countless reports and accounts of the conditions for asylum seekers in offshore detention, all of which paint a clear and consistent picture of a system which is deliberately designed to harm people and to break their spirits.
At the end of the meeting, when asked to comment, Mr Hartsuyker reiterated the Coalition’s policy of protecting our borders, stopping the boats, and saving lives at sea.  He steadfastly refused to be drawn on the reality of the cruelty and suffering inflicted on asylum seekers in offshore detention, where self-harm, physical and sexual abuse are daily occurrences, and where suicides and preventable deaths seem to be the acceptable price to be paid to help to “keep us safe”. He also refused to entertain the idea that other, more humane, courses of action might be preferable.
A spokesperson for the group, Mike Griffin, commented: "We explained to Mr Hartsuyker that we have long since lost count of the number of people who approach us at our market stalls to tell us that the government’s cruel policy on asylum seekers makes them feel ashamed to call themselves Australian. Sadly, Mr Hartsuyker was not interested. It appears that moral leadership and principle are woefully lacking in the current political climate.”

Bellingen and Nambucca Districts Rural Australians for Refugees.

Contact: Mike Griffin, 39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach NSW 2448. Tel 6569 5419

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