21 September 2016: The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) is highly disappointed with the much anticipated pledge that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took to the Obama Summit.
Speaking from Thailand today, Executive Officer Ms Misha Coleman, said: “There had been a great deal of anticipation here in Bangkok yesterday amongst the hundreds of refugee organisations I’m here working with. This morning however, there is clearly nothing to celebrate”.
Ms Coleman said: “As demonstrated by figures from AHRC, Australia’s aid to the major countries of refugee origin and asylum in the Asia-Pacific region has been slashed. Additionally, since 2012/2012, the government’s overall aid budget has been slashed by $1.22 billion. So while of course the pledge today of $130 million is welcomed, it does little to redress the cuts that have made over recent years”.
Source: AHRC, Pathways to protection: a human rights-based response to the flight of asylum seekers by sea, 2016, p.58.
She said “the additional announcement that the government would not cut its commitment to provide 18,750 refugee resettlement places, pales in comparison to the new pledges that other countries made at the Summit”.
Acting Chair of the Taskforce, Rev’d Mark Riessen, said that “we had hoped that Mr Turnbull would use the world stage in New York to announce an end to the hell that people are enduring in Nauru and in Manus Province, and would bring them here. Despite a series of highly credible reports being released over recent weeks, which outline alternatives and other options for the Government to take, unfortunately the cruel attempt to cover up Government-sanctioned abuse just continues.”
Media contact: Misha Coleman 0428 399 739