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Reply to letter re Afghan refugees by Pat Conaghan M.P.


From: Conaghan, Pat (MP) <>

Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 2:01 PM
To: M. G.
Subject: RE: Afghanistan


Dear Mr G,


Thanks for your email.


The situation in Afghanistan continues to be volatile and dangerous.


Our top priority is the safe departure of Australian citizens and visa holders, including Afghan former locally engaged employees. We continue to work with our friends and partners to support one another’s evacuation operations.


Since 18 August, we have supported the evacuation of about 2,450 people from Kabul, including Australian and New Zealand nationals, visa holders and foreign nationals including British, US and a Fijian. Four more flights airlifted evacuees on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning (AEST) with more than 750 people. We have had three charter planes from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide that have returned 419 people to Australia.


Our consular officials are using every means possible to assist Australian citizens and visa holders – phoning and emailing directly as well as providing regular updates on the Government’s Smartraveller website.


Access to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) continues to be very challenging, but we do have a significant presence on the ground at the airport. We are encouraging Australian citizens, Permanent Residents and Australian visa-holders to go to HKIA, if it’s safe to do so. We will do everything we can in the time we have to get as many people out as safely as possible.


There is a discussion going on about the prospect of US extending its withdrawal deadline and we are part of those discussions and we are absolutely ready to support a continuing operation at HKIA.


Every visa applicant who does not meet the criteria of the category of at-risk employees now has their application forwarded automatically to the Department of Home Affairs to be automatically considered under another humanitarian stream. This process has already resulted in hundreds of other visas being granted to those who are ineligible for the special category.


The Australian Government has announced that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places will be allocated to Afghan nationals within Australia’s overall annual humanitarian program. The Government anticipates this initial allocation will increase over the course of this year, giving first priority to Afghan nationals within the offshore humanitarian program and affording them visa processing priority in the year ahead.


While I fully support this, I believe we can and should resettle more Afghan nationals as part of our humanitarian program. I will be urging my Parliamentary colleagues to join me in advocating for a minimum of 10,000 additional places in response to this crisis. Australia is consistently one of the world’s most generous humanitarian resettlement countries and I believe this is an opportunity to provide greater levels of support for Afghani people at risk from the Taliban.


Yours sincerely,



Federal Member for Cowper


Letter to Minister Andrews re: Afghanistan

Subject: Afghanistan

Dear Minister Andrews,

Like everyone else, I have watched the TV footage of the chaos in Kabul with deep dismay. The spectacle of seeing thousands of people fleeing for their lives is truly shocking.

As one of the countries which has had a military presence in the country for the past twenty years, we  surely have a moral responsibility to help those who now are begging for our assistance. In previous crises, the Australian government has shown compassion and generosity in making additional humanitarian places available to refugees from Vietnam and Syria. It was, therefore, deeply disappointing to hear the Prime Minister tell the nation that we would accept just 3,000 refugees from Afghanistan, and, disgracefully, that these places would come out of our already much-reduced humanitarian intake. This is an utterly inadequate response.

Afghanistan is now in turmoil, and Kabul is not a safe place, particularly for girls and women nor for the thousands of Afghans who, for the past two decades, have assisted the coalition forces in a range of activities. There should be no question of ever sending any of the several thousand Afghans currently living in Australia on TPVs back to Afghanistan against their will.

I therefore urge you and your government to urgently:

  • ensure the safety of refugees from Afghanistan in Australia by providing them with permanent protection visas so that they can remain here safely.
  • increase the humanitarian visa quota with a generous one-off intake for the people in Afghanistan in the most danger.
  • provide a pathway for refugees from Afghanistan to apply to reunite with their families in Australia.

This is NOT the time to be warning darkly about people smugglers or people drowning at sea. The government solved that problem seven years ago, and it’s time to move on.

I look forward to your early response to this most urgent crisis.

Yours sincerely,

M... G.

Valla Beach



National RAR news, 15 August 2021: A survey & a zoom meeting with Kristina Kenneally

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – Welcome to this RAR Update (some members have asked to be sent a Word version of this newsletter: if you want this, please email me again so I can maintain a list for the future).

RAR National Matters: Take Stock Survey and Workshops, and Annual General Meeting

RAR started 20 years ago, in September 2001.  Twenty years of supporting refugees and people seeking asylum, and advocating for fairness, decency and humane treatment of people seeking safety.

We did not anticipate we’d still be here in 2021!  Yet we are.  We are bringing a particular rural and regional perspective to refugee advocacy.

We want to understand how we can get the best value from our actions. The RAR National Committee has organised activities so that we can take stock and look at how we will work through the next three years.

Over a three-month period, you, our members and others we work with, can say what your ideas and views are about how we can work most effectively in the years ahead. This will include intensive discussions through two workshops, which will be supported by a skilled facilitator, and with key stakeholders.

We will start with an online survey.  We would like as many people as possible to complete this short survey.  Our member groups, members of your groups, our supporters, other refugee support and advocacy groups, refugees and people seeking asylum who we have connected with in some way.  The survey is anonymous.  We would like you to circulate it as widely as you can and encourage your members and supporters to complete it.

Here is the link: It is open until 30 September.

We will also hold two Zoom sessions, for which people can register to take part in more in-depth discussion, with the facilitator, about RAR and its future directions.  The dates for these are: Tuesday 7 September, from 6pm – 7.30pm and Wednesday 8 September from 9am – 10.30am.  There are eight places for each session so if you would like to attend, please email to register.

Meanwhile, the 2021 RAR Annual General Meeting will be on Saturday, 18 September, at 2pm, on Zoom. It will feature the annual report and financial statements.

The formal call for groups to nominate people for the National Committee will come soon (and this will give all the other meeting details as well). You should consider what you might want to raise, who you want to send, and who you might want to nominate.

Associates of RAR are also welcome to attend.


Tampa Anniversary

Also 20 years ago, on August 26, the MV Tampa rescued 433 people from a stranded boat. Its passengers were attempting to reach Christmas Island, where they would intending to lodge claims for asylum. Australian authorities had sent out the call for the boat to be rescued.

At the request of a number of the asylum seekers and with concerns for the safety of those onboard, the Tampa captain, Arne Rinnan – who subsequently, with the crew and the ship’s owner, received the UNHCR’s  Nansen Refugee Award, sailed for Christmas Island. 
The Howard Coalition government refused to allow the Tampa to disembark the asylum seekers on Christmas Island. SAS forces boarded the vessel by Australian SAS forces and seized the asylum seekers. Most were ultimately removed to a hurriedly established offshore detention centre on Nauru.


This was a significant moment in the history of Australian asylum policy, political debate and migration law. The ‘Tampa affair’ and the newly introduced offshore detention of asylum seekers to purportedly deter them from coming to Australia became a leading issue in the 2001 election. In broader perspective, it was a product of an already restrictive and politicised asylum policy and contributed to the rationale for the system of offshore processing and the policy of turning back boats that developed. This has impacted on the asylum-seekers Australia is responsible for, as well as within Australian politics.

This anniversary offers important opportunities for action, including in support of the 108 refugees still held on Nauru and the 125 held in PNG at the Australian government’s behest. You can find resources – sample letters to be sent to local MPs and media, memes for social media, and relevant cartoons and photographs – at (ignore the coming soon message at the top and scroll down to find these).



Freedom Street

Freedom Street is a documentary which uncovers the history on how Australia became the world's leader in punitive policies to deter vulnerable people from seeking policy. The Freedom Street Documentary Info Night and Fundraising event is on Saturday August 21 at 7pm via Zoom.

Learn more about the Indonesia's side in Australia's Turn Back the Boats policy and the colossal impact on the lives of the 14000 refugees who are there. The film also explores Australia's history to find out how we got to this point and pragmatic long term solutions.

The night will be facilitated by the filmmaker Alfred Pek, who will screen an exclusive small preview of the film. Joniad, Azizah and Ashfaq - the refugee stars currently in limbo in Indonesia - will join live.

There will be a Q&A discussion regarding the refugee experience and the impact of Australian policies on asylum seekers. As well as reading performances by Joniad and Azizah.

For your ticket, go to:
Kristina Kenneally

Senator Kristina Kenneally, Labor’s shadow minister for home affairs, has asked to meet with RAR members through a national Zoom forum. She explained she is still trying to meet with as many people as possible during the lockdowns.

We’ve agreed, with the date and time being Monday 27 September, 6.30pm-7.30pm – you can put that in the diary, with the Zoom link to be advised. Kristina will present for up to 20 mins, leaving most of the time for Q&A.

If possible, submit questions in advance to, with further questions to come during the session.


Letter 2 to A. Albanese M.P.


Dear Mr Albanese,


I have supported and worked for the Labour Party for over 50 years but in recent times have been unable to give Labor my support due to the party’s policies on the issue of the treatment of refugees. “Offshore Processing” has been a harsh and cruel policy over the years and one which sadly, Labor has supported.  Many of us  would like Labor to press for an end to this.


A further pressing issue at the moment revolves around the continued use of Temporary Protection Visas for refugees . As you will know, there are over 30, 000 genuine refugees on TPV’s in Australia. These people have often spent years in detention and many have been through a life of terror and stress . Even though they have been designated refugees they are still living in insecurity and hardship on TPV’s with no certainty around their futures. At the recent ALP National Conference, Labour committed to the conversion of Temporary Protection Visas to Permanent Protection Visas. We urge you to keep to this commitment and press for Temporary Protection Visas to be abolished.


The Labor Party through the years has always  been a party of compassion and humanity and it is this central tenet that has seen Labor successful at election time. It would be to Labor’s advantage in the polls to demonstrate by its policy platform that these principles are still embedded in the Labor manifesto. Temporary Protection Visas serve no purpose in relation to border security and prevent hardworking  migrants and their families from fully settling in Australia and  contributing to Australian society.


Many asylum seekers are professional people  and are highly skilled. They deserve an opportunity to re-build their lives. As for the overall policy of “Offshore Processing” and “ Indefinite Detention”  – Labor needs to be clear and decisive on these issues . These policies must end – they bring shame on Australia in the eyes of the rest of the world.   


Yours sincerely,


M........m G........

Letter to A. Albanese M.P. re Temporary Protection Visas

To: '' <>
Subject: Labor policy on TPVs


Dear Mr. Albanese,

The Labor Party commendably went to the last Federal election promising to abolish temporary protection visas. The party recognized that offering just temporary protection to genuine refugees has consigned this cohort of some 30,000 people to living with permanent anxiety and uncertainty. The Coalition policy has inflicted immense suffering on a group of people who have met the criteria for our protection under international conventions. They pose no threat to our security, they work hard to contribute to Australian society, they pay their taxes, and yet we send them the clear message that they are not quite welcome here. To require them, every three or five years, to relive their trauma and to prove once again that they deserve our protection is both cruel and completely unnecessary. To deprive them of the possibility of family reunion consigns them to a life of unhappiness and stress.

I urge you, and the Labor Party which you lead, to resist the pressure to abandon the commitment to ending TPVs. Please  promise that at the next election you will retain your policy to grant permanent protection to all the refugees who are currently forced to spend their lives in a permanent limbo of stress and uncertainty.

Please stick to your principles, show compassion and humanity, and resist the calls from the usual quarters to demonstrate that you are as tough as the Coalition on refugees. The Australian people will reward you for it.

Yours sincerely,

M.... G......

Valla Beach NSW 2448