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Letter to Senator Keneally re Labor's unsatisfactory policy



                                                                                                                   Valla Beach,

                                                                                                                    NSW 2448


                                                                                                            26th April 2021

Dear Senator Keneally,

I was very heartened to read about your recent visit to Christmas Island to meet with Nades, Priya and their two young daughters. The ongoing detention of this family, at great expense to Australian taxpayers, makes no sense at all. It is cruel, unnecessary and vindictive. Your call for the family to be returned to Biloela has significant community and cross-party support. We can but hope that the new Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, will exercise some compassion and humanity, and will finally allow the family to return to Biloela, where they will be welcomed with open arms.

I was, however, deeply disheartened by your unequivocal restatement of Labor’s policy on asylum seekers: that under a Labor government, boats would continue to be turned back; that offshore processing (a euphemism for indefinite offshore detention) would continue; and that asylum seekers arriving by boat would never be resettled in Australia.

It is precisely this policy, initiated by a Labor government, which has condemned thousands of asylum seekers – most of whom have been found to qualify for our protection – to eight years of torment and trauma, which continues to this day. A policy which has resulted in a number of deaths, hundreds of self-harming events, and serious mental health issues.

It is clear from your statement that a future Labor government is promising more of the same.

If you are genuinely serious about treating vulnerable people with compassion and respect, then Labor Party policy clearly needs a significant and principled reset, rooted in respect for human rights and a commitment to upholding our international obligations. A good starting point would be for the Party to demand the immediate evacuation of all the refugees and asylum seekers who remain in PNG and on Nauru, given that both these locations are demonstrably unsafe for these people. Secondly, the Party should demand that all the people transferred from Nauru and PNG for medical treatment should be immediately released into the community, with the necessary support to enable them to rebuild their shattered lives.

Serious policy action, rather than a visit to Christmas Island, however commendable, is what so many of us in the community are looking to from the Labor Opposition.

Is that too much to expect?

Yours sincerely,


Mike G




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