A scandalous and brutal Bill has been proposed by the Howard government to block all access to Australia of all asylum seekers arriving by boat, both for processing their claims and for settlement if these claims prove true. We need a dozen Liberal and National MP's in Parliament to become confident enough to Cross the Floor and block this legislation; and we need two Senators to Cross the Floor and block the passage of this Bill - no matter how its amendments try to obfuscate the sneakiness of its contents.
This email explains the case and suggests many things you can do over the next three weeks.
9 August 2006: The Coalition Rebels speak out - Three Government MP's, The Hon Judi Moylan, Mr Russell Broadbent and Mr Petro Georgiou crossed the floor over the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006, sat in the opposition benches, and voted against the Bill with the Australian Labor Party and others opposed. Here are their remarkable speeches.
16 May 2006: David Manne at the "Boatloads of Extinguishment?" - "The new policy of 'Radical Rejection' not only involves offshore processing. The Government has also refused to discount the possibility of using our navy to intercept or interdict boats with asylum seekers on board, without undertaking any assessment of the person's fears or need for protection..."
13 May 2006: The Ban The Boatpeople Bill - The Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 should really be called the "Ban The Boatpeople Bill". Since Tampa the Howard government has been insistent that "unannounced boat-using asylum seekers" are "illegals" or "unlawful" in their entry. Both terms have no basis in law in Australia...
If you are a citizen of Iceland or the East-African nation of Djibouti, and you hear the latest news coming from Australia about the way it intends to deal with asylum seekers arriving unannounced by boat on its shores, it sure must sound like a joke:
"Australia, the country made up of Irish and English convicts and other boat-arrivals, who came to its shores a few centuries ago in an 'unauthorized manner' - without asking the indigenous population for permission - to populate a country that was declared "terra nullius" - worthless land - banishes all boatpeople seeking asylum, and intends to lock them up on useless islands and in bankrupt nations, forever if need be...."
We know it's not a joke - and there are just three weeks to stop these proposals to become laws. There are MANY things you can do - and you MUST do them.
Under the new legislation proposed, everyone who enters Australia - not just already "excised" islands, but now also the mainland, will be "deported" to immigration detention camps - read: refugee jails - such as on Nauru or on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island. Australian laws will not be enforceable in these camps, and independent non-government lawyers will not have access to these asylum seekers. Also, after assessment of these asylum seekers is complete, they will not be allowed to live in Australia, but they will be sent as refugees to "other countries" (if these countries actually want them).
In the words of a young ABC Radio Reporter during the Easter weekend news broadcasts, "under the new laws, all of Australia is excised from the Migration Zone."
Of course this policy once again is based on a lie and a misrepresentation: regardless of the spin, it is NOT "illegal" to arrive in Australia without a visa to seek asylum, and the term "unauthorised" is similarly based on a misrepresentation: under the UN Refugee Convention as well as deriving from article 14 of the International Declaration of Human Rights, people seeking asylum using boats are well and truly authorized to enter Australia for that purpose - the only problem is that this has not been enshrined in a law or in a Bill of Rights for Australia.
You may want to be reminded that the UN Refugee Convention was formulated for Boatpeople - and not for Containerpeople, or for Trainpeople or Planepeople. See the examples of the boat stories on our website - filled with Jewish Refugees - that formed the trigger for the UN Convention see this page.
Ask Father Frank Brennan, the Jesuit Priest and Lawyer, who served as the pastor at the Woomera detention centre. He labels the Australian government "people traffickers" under this new and abhorrent arrangement:
Canberra joins the people traffickers (Frank Brennan, Sydney Morning Herald, April 17 2006)
More detailed news from Australian media in our newsletter, see the archives here - see also the "Previous message" link.
See also the Amnesty International Press Statement: Changes to Australia's Migration Act a travesty of justice (Amnesty International Australia, Press Statement, 13 April 2006):
Demand that the Federal Labor Party unequivocally opposes this Bill, no matter what the amendments are or will be, because it tries to permanently destroy Australia's obligations under the UN Convention.
Demand that the ALP reverses this Bill in Full if it wins the next Federal Election - without ifs and buts, and that it is loud and clear in the media about this reversal, right here and right now.
The list of MP's in Parliament who are already concerned with the proposed legislation is once again spearheaded by Petro Georgiou MP, Member for Kooyong. Not surprising. Please see our contact details for eight parliamentarians who also had conscience to a certain extend last year, when Georgiou together with Ms Judi Moylan launched the Private Members' Bills, and during the debates over the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005:
Please add your local - or nearest - National or Liberal Party MP, and add others as you see fit. We need about a dozen MPs in Parliament, who cross the floor on this issue and fiercely oppose this most draconian of all proposals concerning asylum seekers and refugees.
We know that the government has a slim majority in the Senate. We also know that someone such as Senator Barnaby Joyce met the West Papuans on Christmas Island, that he was duly impressed with the genuinity of their asylum claim, and that he was outspoken about that in the media after he returned. We also know he's a maverick, who does exactly what he wants.
We also know that Senator for Victoria, Steve Fielding, wants to honour family values. How's this policy for destroying families, or splitting them again apart of children and women will find a "Free Range" Refugee Jail, mercilessly couped-up nonetheless, in breach of a raft of International Conventions?
Also think of Marise Payne, George Brandis, Judith Troeth. Contact details follow the MP's already mentioned:
Other organisations and groups are also starting a campaign on these laws:
Uniting Church of Australia: http://assembly.uca.org.au/unitingjustice/
A Just Australia: http://www.ajustaustralia.com/home.php
It seems almost like this is the Refugee Advocates' Last Stand - protecting Australia's Borders from being meddled with by terrorizing politicians. I believe that this is the final plan John Howard dreamt of during the Tampa stand-off during 2001, but he could not pull it off at that time.
Do not allow this cruel manipulation of refugees to happen!
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin WA 6312