An update on the
letter writing campaign
Greg Sheridan made much of his desire to be
able to call boat people "illegal". He was wrong
Could climate change knock us off, or are we a permanent fixture in the universe?
Rule of law and national
security concerns – the impact on human rights?
The government introduced sweeping amendments
to the migration legislation on 25 September 2014. It is the plainest statement yet that the
Abbott government does not wish to comply with its obligations under the
Refugees Convention, consistent with its repeated failure to observe it
obligations under other human rights instruments such as the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, which it breaches constantly by holding children in
immigration detention, here and in Nauru.
For more detail on its mistreatment of children,
see the submission
by Save The Children employees to the Human Rights
For a summary of the amendments to the
migration legislation, see Chilout’s analysis of the new legislation
A Just Australia campaign: Write
to be Heard
From the Big Bang to Life on Earth took about 9
billion years. Life on earth emerged 2.1
billion years ago. This chart compresses the 2.1 billion years of
life on earth onto a 12-hour clock, to put human history into perspective. It is arguable that, despite our vanity, we are not central to the design
of the universe
Why sending Tamils back to Sri Lanka is a breach of our obligations under the Refugees Convention.
Australia breaches Refugee Convention
obligations Tamils seeking asylum disappear into
a fog of Morrison’s petulance and contempt
Abbott says Sri Lanka is a society at
peace. Read the facts
instead of believing him
Here is a revealing observation about our
Some reflections on Access to Justice
Learn about Liberty Victoria: protecting YOUR
Here is an example of one of the Immigration
Department’s 14-day letters
- write to asylum seekers held on Nauru or Manus Island. Here’s how to do it
- write to Federal politicians.
Here’s how to do it
And read excerpts from Scott Morrison’s maiden speech in Parliament. He says what his
principles are. Was he mistaken about
his principles, or has he simply betrayed them?
Physical and Mental Health Subcommittee of the
Joint Advisory Committee for Nauru Regional Processing Arrangements - Nauru
Site Visit Report 16-19 February 2014 - Executive summary
detention costs taxpayers $3,744 per asylum seeker per day. Churches call on Joe Hockey to stop writing a
blank cheque for
cruelty. See the detailed
Using technology to make Intervention Orders more effective
Undesirables”: an account of the detention centre on Nauru, by Mark
Isaacs. Published by Hardie Grant.
Here is my Foreword to it.
Good article by Chris Rau: Borders
without Doctors (warning: file is 1.2 Mb)
by Greg Sheridan published on 6 September 2001: under a heading
“Inflammatory denial of human dignity”, he says:
“The Government's behaviour towards asylum-seekers
is appalling by any standards. Australia is the only nation in the developed
world that has a policy of mandatory and non-reviewable detention for all
asylum-seekers who arrive without a visa. You should believe virtually nothing
the Government tells you about this. …”
It is one occasion where I can say he has
written a very fine article, and that I agree with him.
New website: Sorry, Asylum Seekers
Minister warned of heavy
metals contamination at Nauru detention centre: another health risk to
refugees. No response.
“queue-jumping”, “border protection” and other myths
There is a much better way
of dealing with boat-people. It
would avoid all the harm done by indefinite detention and it would produce huge
benefits for the Australian community.
Harsher conditions in
immigration detention as Morrison’s promises of cruel treatment begin to
Nauru, the rule of law,
Time to make it an offence for
politicians to mislead or deceive us.
A bit of information about Coal Seam Gas, and a few
activist groups concerned about it.
UNHCR reports on Australia’s breaches of human
rights regarding detention conditions and processing of asylum seekers held on Nauru
Island, November 2013
Here is a letter I
received from a member of the public recently concerning our treatment of
asylum seekers. The writer has given me
permission to make the contents of the letter public.
Read the story
of two boat people from Iran: see why they are willing to risk their lives
at sea in their attempt to reach safety:
“Over the past decade, it is
believed that more than a thousand asylum seekers have drowned. The unseaworthy vessels are swamped through
leaky hulls, capsize in heavy swells, splinter on the
rocks. Survivors sometimes drift for days. Children have watched their parents
drown, and parents their children. Entire families have been lost.”
Andrew Bolt has been criticizing me vigorously
in recent weeks. I am
by Clarrie Burke
5 November is the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605: Guy Fawkes and all that. It can still teach us some lessons
The idea that a deterrent
policy might save people from drowning in an attempt to reach safety in Australia
is attractive but mistaken.
Barry Jones Oration
2013, at Werribee Park
Scott Morrison addresses
detainees in Nauru. Warns them about “lies”, but overlooks his own lies. This is the man who thinks he can lie to
Australians in order to be allowed to brutalize refugees. Oh, and he claims to be a devout
Christian…Worships at ShireLive
church. They must be terribly proud of him.
Scott Morrison insists that asylum seekers are
“illegal”. It is untrue, but is
calculated to make it seem respectable to mistreat them. Here is a simple
explanation of the legal position.
Now that we know our politicians are stealing from us, it is important
to recognize when they are lying to us.
Anglican Synod condemns
use of the word “illegal” to refer to asylum seekers
Does the Abbott government really care about
Ubud Writers Festival: A Letter to the thing I
wish I had written: A Recent History of Australia,
written 20 years from now
Not a good look for Brandis:
rorting expenses to schmooze with journos at
Sign on a church in Gosford:
Human Rights abuse starts with secrecy
On 17 September I gave the Tim Costello Lecture 2013
On 12 September 1683, the Ottomans abandoned
their siege of Vienna. This led, by way
of holy wars and odd bits of etymology, to coffee
Morrison defends Fiona Scott’s fatuous comments
blaming traffic congestion on refugees, and persists with his dishonest use of
the word “illegals” to refer to boat people.
The election next Saturday will seal the fate
of the next generation like no other. A few years ago, climate change was the
‘greatest moral challenge of our times’.
This time round, it has barely rated a mention. We are playing Russian
roulette with our kids
This is a very disturbing election, with both
major parties trying to outdo each other in their promises to be cruel to a particular
group of human beings. So
how should we vote?
The UN Human Rights Committee has found 143 violations of international law by Australia involving
46 refugees indefinitely detained because of ASIO adverse security assessments;
the decision was released on 22 August 2013
A failure of political leadership leaves both
major political parties trying to outdo each other in cruelty
to refugees and majoritarian rule begins to look like mob rule. If politicians treated animals this badly,
they would be drummed out of office.
Do Human Rights Matter?: A forum on our treatment of refugees: 26 August 2013,
6.30 pm at Kaleide Theatre RMIT 360 Swanston St
How we can act
decently and save money
Nauru: a statement by
Salvation Army workers there.
PNG Arrangement: Defend
the Bad against the Worse
A response to the PNG
solution: disgracing Australia’s name.
But counter-intuitively, maybe we should not try to break it down just
Read this letter from an
Iranian still held in detention after more than 3 years, and finally on a
hunger strike in desperation
Senator Carr’s arrogant
and misguided views about asylum seekers
Why Senator Brandis is dangerously
Logs: a new website to help you stay informed of what we are doing to
people who have done nothing wrong, but have asked for our help.
ASIO assessments and
the profound unfairness of locking up people assessed as entitled to our
Facts about refugees, compiled by the
Centre for Policy Development. For some people, the facts have a bearing
on their opinion. Unfortunately Abbott, Morrison and the Gillard government
prefer to ignore the facts as they chase votes.
This is the information
given to people carted to Nauru against their wishes: first we hijack them,
then we threaten them, then we get Nauru to imprison them: that’s how we drive
them to despair.
The Far West Community
Legal Centre desperately needs financial help. Follow the link, see what they do, and please
contribute if you can.
assessments: the Coalition shows its warm fuzzy side
A reflection on Australia Day, 2013
and baby locked up, possibly forever, without being allowed to know why.
This is not how Australia is supposed to be.
Censorship on Manus Island: obviously we are ashamed
of what we are doing. And so we should be.
Voices from people detained on Manus Island. Think of their despair and ask whether this
is how we should treat people, at Christmas or any other time.
A child detained on
Manus Island tries to speak out.
Read the plight of a
boy found to be a refugee but held in detention in
conditions which the government knows are likely to result in his death.
Some small stories about the dreadful treatment
of refugees right now.
The process of ‘screening out’ asylum seekers at the point of entry
to Australia operates to create terrible injustice
The Golden Rule – the
principle of reciprocity – the idea “do unto others as you would have them do
unto you” is nearly universal. Here are some examples.
As we increasingly demonise boat-people it is worth remembering the voyage
of the St Louis in 1939: It was denied permission to land its cargo of 900
Jews, and as a result hundreds of them died in concentration camps.
report condemns Pacific Solution, and here is their press
A girl held on Manus
Island writes to Minister Chris Bowen
Some ideas for a better, and much
cheaper way of treating boat-people.
The cruelty of Temporary Protection Visas
Refugee policy: heading down the wrong track
Here is the Constitution of Nauru – note the Charter of
Human Rights at the start of it - and the very recent Nauru Refugee Convention Act
Very important decision
of the High Court in case
M47/2012: the High Court held invalid a regulation which prevented the
grant of a protection visa to a refugee if ASIO assessed the refugee to be a
risk to security. Accordingly, a majority of the Court held that the decision
to refuse the plaintiff a protection visa on the basis of that regulation had
not been made according to law.
people put around emails saying that refugees get more government benefits than
pensioners. It is false, as this report
from the Parliamentary Library shows.
Spreading discredited stories despite the facts is the mark of bigotry.
DASSAN: Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and
Advocacy Network: doing a great job in the Northern Territory
The UNHCR does not
seem convinced that Pacific Solution Mk II is a good idea. In particular, their letter to Minister Bowen
suggests that Nauru does not have the ability to undertake refugee processing,
and Australia does not have the right to side-step its Convention
obligations. See UNHCR
letter of 5 September 2012 to Minister Bowen
The $15 billion challenge: there are prizes to be won in this home-grown
am donating the prizes to find who has the best ways of spending $15 billion
instead of throwing it at the Pacific Solution Mk II. See the challenge
A clash of national
ideals is exposed by Go Back
of organisations helping Asylum Seekers and Refugees
There are two contradictions
at the heart of Pacific Solution Mk II
On 8 August Barry Jones’ gave the 33rd Daniel Mannix Memorial Lecture
26 August 2012: eleven
years on from Tampa
Tony Abbott on 7.30: can
we believe what he says?
in Assange case
A marvellous Letter to the Editor from Dermot Daley-really worth
A few simple questions
for Julia Gillard and Mr Abbott
A brief response to
the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers
The policy of deterrence:
is it really who we are?
about asylum seekers, by Sharon Pickering.
to Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers:
A selection of the submissions to Expert Panel:
- Human Rights Law Centre submission
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre submission
Centre for Policy Development’s submission
- Sev Ozdowski’s submission
Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network submission
- my submission
- and The Conversation has put together an expert panel to
make recommendations: see their
Mr Abbott criticizes boat-people as unChristian. He is wrong.
Malaysian Solution or Nauru Solution: some
Australia being swamped with refugees? No: look at this comparison
for life, without charge, without trial, without appeal. this
should not happen in Australia, but read about what we are doing to this mother
and her two children
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre has
a brilliant new resource about seeking asylum: this is useful to refugee
applicants, community supporters of refugee applicants, and just about anyone
not in the lock ‘em up brigade.
Report recommends substantial improvements to immigration detention system
A Just Australia reports:
528 children remain in immigration detention facilities or alternative places
of detention as at March 2012. Welcome to Australia…
Senator Brandis and Ron
Merkel - why Brandis is wrong
50 refugees face lifetime
detention without breaking the law, without reasons.
and the problem with Nauru
How do we respond to
the fact of refugees drowning at sea trying to get here?
Excellent article by
James Hathaway about asylum seekers being held by Indonesia
Have a look at the website of Welcome to Australia – a
really beaut idea.
Myths about boat people – get the facts here
op-ed in Newcastle Herald 3 November 2011 (original as
published here: slow to load)
to Justice Report (Dec 2009)
facts from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre
Download Uniting Church Human
Rights kit ; get a useful factsheet on refugees and a
useful summary of myths and facts
from the Refugee Council of Australia; and a useful compilation of asylum facts
prepared by the Parliamentary library
Australians All and
The Justice Project
find a Community Legal Centre to help you
Rendition Monologues: available here for any theatre group to perform