Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cambodia Cash for Corruption Refugee Deal: The $40 000/person ‘solution’

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce calls on the Prime Minister to explain how he will ensure that Australian taxpayer dollars do not end up in the bank accounts of corrupt Cambodian Government Ministers.

The Taskforce Chief, Ms Misha Coleman, said today “ I support the assertion made by the Cambodian Opposition Leader today – Sam Rainsy – that the $40 million being paid to the Cambodia Government will end up in the pockets of the senior Ministers who have done this secret deal with Australia, not for the resettlement of refugees nor for aid projects.”

Misha Coleman lived and worked in Cambodia and Vietnam for nearly 7 years. She said that Cambodian Government corruption was evident in almost every transaction you make. “ Hun Sen and his Ministers in the Cambodia Government are rich beyond belief – and they didn’t accumulate this wealth on Government salaries. They siphon money from every imaginable source: commercial contracts, aid projects, you name it.”

In Cambodia, 70% of the population live on less than US$2/day. And yet Cambodian Government live and play in unimaginable luxury, with fleets of cars, houses and assets. This is clearly known to the Australian Government.

“Australia has already pumped millions of dollars into Nauru and Manus Island, through our aid budget and all the infrastructure required, but they have still failed. So now we’re moving onto the next developing country that will take a hand-out from Australian taxpayers”.

The Taskforce is calling on the Australian Government to be responsible stewards of our tax dollar, instead of buying a political solution for the small number of asylum seekers, compared to other countries, that seek asylum in Australia.

“Even if Cambodia does take 1000 refugees, at a bill to Australia of $40 million, that’s costing us too much,” Coleman said.

“It’s not hard to imagine refugees trying to get out of poverty-stricken Cambodia, over the border to prosperous cities like Bangkok. I wonder whether the Government in Thailand has been asked about this deal?”

She said that the raft of announcements made by Minister Morrison, are like Howard’s Work Choices-they just go too far. “How can Australia sit on the Security Council and expect other world powers to support us when we really need them, when we are withdrawing from our international agreements in areas such as International Refugee Law, which is a global problem, that needs global solutions?”

Media comment available from Misha Coleman, 0428 399 739
Media Contact – contact Kate Pembroke, 0488 222 916

Dr Lucy Morris

lucymorrisDr Lucy Morris was appointed Baptistcare’s CEO in late 2008.  She has held leadership positions in the WA community sector since emigrating from the UK to Australia over 20 years ago.  She has also worked in the drug and alcohol field, and as a journalist and PR consultant in the UK.

Lucy’s educational qualifications include a 1st Class BA Theology Honours Degree and a Master of Philosophy Degree both from Manchester University. She achieved her Ph.D. in 2007 at Curtin University following 3 years of research into ‘Leadership, ethics, values and spirituality in NGOs and the integration of personal and organisational belief systems’.  This was published in 2007 and was followed by a second book in 2009 on the role of women in charities.

Lucy is active in her local church, St George’s Anglican Church in Dunsborough and was ordained as a Deacon in December 2013.  She is currently on the journey towards ordination as a priest in November 2014. She is an active advocate for women’s issues and offers a feminist critique of leadership, spirituality and ethical governance of the community sector.  Her work also explores the issues of consumerism and the impact of capitalism; and she is passionate about the social justice issues of human trafficking, slavery and refugees.  She is currently Chairperson of the national peak body Baptist Care Australia and on Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Service’s Gender Sub-Committee.  She is Deputy Chairperson, of ACSWA, Aged and Community Services WA.  She has been on a number of community boards over the years both as a member and as Chair.  Lucy is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia; and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Her hobbies include reading, writing – as she continues to publish journal articles, co-authoring on a number of issues, and presenting at conferences.  Se writes her own blog through Baptistcare.  She enjoys occasional walks on the beach, catching up with friends, and working in the community.

 

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:03+00:00 September 5th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Quakers Discussion Paper

Quakers have become increasingly alarmed at the policies of the Australian Government about refugees and asylum seekers, especially those who arrive by boat. The current public debate has become very polarized and adversarial, and there is ambivalence in public attitudes alongside a hardening of policies and procedures for responding to boat arrivals. This Paper attempts to put the situation in historical context, to summarise commentary on current and possible future approaches, and to suggest questions for discussion.

Download the Word Doc: DP14.3 Australia and Refugees

By | 2015-04-09T07:57:04+00:00 September 5th, 2014|Church Policies, Statements and Reports|

Concert for Refugees – Brisbane

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.06.55 am3 pm Sunday, 14th of September 2014
Freedom Seeker – Roots Rock Reggae for Refugees
New Globe Theatre 220 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley.

The event:
Featuring Big Iron, Rivermouth, Phil Monsour Band (featuring CD launch), The Molotov, Andy Dub and more.
$18/$13con Presale | $20/$15 at the door

Cheap meal available on the night.

Booking tickets
http://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/RockRootsReggaeforRefugees

Where your money goes
Fundraiser for refugee advocacy and assistance through the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and Refugee And Immigration Legal Service (RAILS).

Further info about the music
http://www.philmonsour.com/
http://www.youtube.com/PhilMonsour
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Monsour-Band/213390992033614

For further info about the event:
Paul, 3392 3843, paul@rac-qld.org .
Mark, 0439 561 196, mgillespie3@gmail.com .

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:04+00:00 September 5th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Wilkie’s Speech to the House of Representatives

The following is the text from Andrew Wilkie’s speech to the House of Representatives on the subject of Adverse ASIO Security Assessments.

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (10:21): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Mr WILKIE: The purpose of this bill is to reinstate the right of access to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for asylum seekers with adverse security assessments. Currently asylum seekers are denied such an appeal option because of a special carve-out for what are referred to as unauthorised maritime arrivals in the ASIO Act. The issue here today and with this bill is not that there should not be security assessments or that genuine risks to Australian national security should not be prevented from entering the community. Regrettably, it has been the case over years that a handful of people have attempted to enter Australia by irregular means, and they have been found—genuinely—to be security risks. But, at the same time, there have been many people who have attempted to enter Australia through irregular means and who have received an adverse security assessment from ASIO, only to ultimately have those adverse assessments overturned. They were found to be in error or, for whatever reason, not warranted.

So, the issue is not about whether or not we should have security assessments. The issue is not whether or not there could be a very small number of people who are genuine security risks in this country. The issue today really is one about fairness and openness. If we accept that all people are equal, and if we accept that it is a fundamental basis of our system that all people should have the right to appeal an adverse finding against them, to challenge an adverse assessment, then why on earth do we have this situation in Australia where an Australian citizen who receives an adverse security assessment is entitled to make an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal but an asylum seeker is not? The bottom line is that in our law an asylum seeker is regarded as a second-class human being who somehow is inferior and should have fewer rights than an Australian citizen. That is wrong, and this bill would remedy that by removing that carve-out from asylum seekers from the relevant part of the ASIO Act.

The situation we have at the moment, where asylum seekers do not have the right to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, clearly puts us at odds again with our responsibilities under international law. It clearly contravenes, among other things, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I will refer to four particular sections. Article 9.1 says that no-one shall be subject to arbitrary detention. But the problem with Australian law currently is that for detention not to be arbitrary people must be sufficiently informed of the reasons for it and there must be individualised consideration of its necessity and whether less-restrictive options might be available. There also needs to be a legal right to seek effective review of the reasons for detention and the security assessment underpinning it. But Australian law contains none of these safeguards.

Article 9.2 goes on to say:

Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest …

This right extends to non-criminal arrest and detention, and it will be violated when people are not adequately informed of the basis for the security assessments underpinning their detention, but, again—and this is where I get to Australian law—contains nothing to prevent such violations from occurring.

In article 9.4 the convention says:

Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court …

They need to be able to challenge a loss of liberty on the basis that it is arbitrary, unnecessary and disproportionate. Again, this option is not effectively the case in Australian law, so long as the carve-out exists in the ASIO Act in regard to asylum seekers.

Articles 7 says:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment …

And article 10.1 says:

All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

It goes on after that. My concern here is that the current arrangement where asylum seekers are denied appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal clearly puts Australia at odds with our obligation as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is not just international law where we are erring. Even Australia’s human rights commissioner has made comment about this. In 2013, Professor Jillian Triggs said that she strongly supports extending the rights to merits review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to refugees who have received and adverse security assessment.

The government might say to me that I am on the wrong track and that in fact the so-called Stone review is a mechanism that does give asylum seekers with adverse security assessments a proper avenue for appealing that adverse assessment. But as welcome as the establishment of the Stone review was and is, it is still an inadequate mechanism for asylum seekers with adverse security assessments to make their case again, because quite frankly, while the Stone review does provide some limited oversight and review of adverse security assessments, and it is something to build on, it does not cure the process of its fundamental shortcomings in law. The Stone review, for instance, is a non-legislative process operating solely as a matter of policy, and it can be discontinued on a whim. Individuals have no legal right to petition for a review by the Stone review. So in a sense it is not actually a right of appeal. It is at the whim of whoever is running the review at the time.

I suggest that the problem here is that this is another punitive measure by a cruel government with a cruel policy. That is the bottom line here: it is punitive. It is another way of saying to those millions of displaced people and people on the move around the world that we are a tough country and we are going to be tough on you, and you had better not try to come our way. It is a punitive and cruel measure. It is not the sort of measure that a sophisticated and civilised country like Australia should be allowing.

I make the point again—and I must have said it 100 times in this place—that until Australia starts acting like a rich and civilised country and honouring the spirit and word of the refugee convention then we are going to have a terribly black mark against our name. I would like to thank the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce for helping me develop this bill, and also the Human Rights Law Centre in Melbourne. They have both been very helpful, and both are very exercised about this matter and are firmly of the view that it is quite improper to continue denying asylum seekers access to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I commend the bill to the House.

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:30): I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:04+00:00 September 2nd, 2014|guantanamo|

Churches Call on Government to Debate ASIO Amendments for refugees by Andrew Wilkie today

The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce is calling on the House Selection Committee to list for debate the Bill tabled by Andrew Willkie today– the ASIO Act Amendment (Restoring Merits Review) Bill 2014.

Vice-Chair of the Taskforce, Sister Suzette Clark rsc, said today that “the Bill aims to reintroduce some procedural fairness to those asylum seekers who are being held in indefinite detention. These people have been assessed as refugees but are being held in jail-like conditions in Villawood and Broadmeadows detention centres because ASIO has given them an adverse security assessment. At present, there are 42 men and 2 women who are in this distressing situation, and some of them are facing their 6th year of indefinite detention. It is shocking! ”.

Sister Suzette called on all Members of the House of Representatives to ensure that this Bill is debated: “Our elected representatives must realise that these particular refugees are not only being locked up without a key, but are also not allowed to know on what basis they have been locked up. This is undemocratic and inhumane”.

The Executive Office of the Taskforce, Ms Misha Coleman, said:  “It’s been clear through conversations with many members of the House of Representatives and Senate that they were not aware of the full impact of the recent Migration Amendment Bill (2013) which they passed through Parliament earlier this year. “

Ms Coleman said that “the Bill introduced today by Andrew Wilkie is a really positive step towards ensuring that everyone is equal before the law. It’s also important to point out that this Bill doesn’t change ASIO’s powers in any way.  We acknowledge that ASIO assessments are critical in protecting our national security, but like all taxpayer-funded government departments, the process by which they are made, explained and reviewed needs to be consistent.”

Sister Suzette Clark said, “Australian Churches are calling for  justice for these  44 people being indefinitely detained. They are human beings and should be treated with dignity and compassion.  The passage of Andrew Wilkie’s  Bill would be one step in achieving justice.”

 More about the Churches Campaign can be found at http://www.australianchurchesrefugeetaskforce.com.au/alaghun/

Drawing from one of the refugees who is indefinitely detained, is overleaf.

Media inquiries:

Sister Suzette Clark, Vice-Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0439 710 218.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739.

Download the word doc:Church Taskforce Press Release-ASIO Private Members Bill

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:04+00:00 September 1st, 2014|guantanamo, Press Releases|