“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

About Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who practises principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law. He is also a human rights and refugee advocate, and author.

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A blunt assessment

A colleague just sent me a blunt assessment of where we have got to with our warehousing of asylum seekers.  It’s hard to disagree with any of this, but it is important to add that asylum seekers are NOT “illegal”: that’s just a political lie. ... read more

Dutton on the rampage

Latest report, 27 April 2015: At 3.30am 7 SERCO ERT guards in blackshirts entered BITA detention camp in Brisbane and dragged three people out of their beds and out of the camp to a waiting ADAGOLD charter flight which departed at 5.35am. Among the three was a woman... read more

Letter from Manus

Here is a letter from Manus Island: the detention centre which has just been declared illegal by the PNG Supreme Court. Letter from Manus The letter had dozens of signatures on it.  I have removed them to avoid reprisals against the people who wrote... read more

Manus: an emotional rant

A colleague in Sydney recently sent me what follows. She described it as an “emotional rant”. I think it makes a lot of sense. Tragically, it show just how little sense our refugee policies make.  Turnbull and dutton should hang their heads in shame.... read more

More horrors at MITA

Here is a message I just received from the wonderful Pamela Curr at ASRC.  As she says, our detention facilities are designed to break people – to punish them for daring to come to Australia seeking protection: ONE OF THE WORST OF DAYS AT THE MITA –... read more


I am posting this largely for historical interest: Manus has been shocking but it’s getting worse. This document has a number of alarming accounts of the brutality which surounded, and followed, the murder of Reza Berati. At the end of the document, it has a... read more

A plea from Manus

Letter from men detained on Manus, 15 April 2016. Here is the original (I have removed the signatures to protect the writers from reprisals) Letter April 2016-image To the UNHCR organization in Canberra We, detainees in Manus Island, are writing to you to thank for... read more

Tom Ballard

I saw Tom Ballard’s show at the Mielbourne International Comedy Festival on Monday 11 April 2016. It’s a great show: an astonishing mixture of comedy and information: information about what we are doing to asylum seekers. It would have been easy for the... read more

Wilson Security

The Greens are campaigning  to get rid of Wilson Security.  The campaign has got a lot to be said for it, not least Peter Dutton’s dismal performance on PM on 7 April, during which he conspicuously refused to answer questions on the issue, instead taking shelter... read more

Human Rights & Social Justice

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Art, music and theatre

Asylum Seekers

Julian on Twitter

@JulianBurnside You can watch the whole series on iview. (Wife and I hooked) They have hit the nail on the head. Funny funny ladies!! Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Try watching it before you decide what you think twitter.com/primabaci/stat…

It's brave of you to show how little empathy you have twitter.com/gill_merman/st…

If a frightened child shelters in your back yard, do YOU call the police? twitter.com/darren_nell/st…

The Australian govt want PNG to change their laws so that their little jail can stay open. It's very LNP, changing laws to fit policy. Retweeted by Julian Burnside

@MayneReport Likewise in Kingston, prime council-owned carpark sites going to waste. #MentoneRenaissance pic.twitter.com/N0CnBGvqhg Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

'Project Mastermind': Colgate colluded with rivals and Woolworths to rip you off bit.ly/1rBv6k3 pic.twitter.com/0jbSpNehdI Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

SHARE PRICE General Motors April, 2011: $32 April, 2016: $32 Tesla Motors April, 2011: $27 April, 2016: $250 pic.twitter.com/DxjE4f93ZQ Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

The Senate GOP’s Trump strategy is to pray for a miracle. bit.ly/1NWkErq pic.twitter.com/7rF3s0RaMo Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

Just watched The Katering Show on ABC for the first time: the most original, hilarious new show I have seen in ages

Interesting comment. But what the Hell does it mean? twitter.com/crankyallanima…


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