From the ABC: Taskforce agrees with Tasmanian Government that it’s ready to take asylum seekers.
The Uniting Church in Australia is today calling on the Government to commit to a significant increase in Australia’s refugee intake as a response to the crisis in Syria.
“While we welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to increase our refugee intake from Syria, the scale of this crisis requires a much greater response,” said Uniting Church President Mr Stuart McMillan.
Read the full press release at the Uniting Justice website.
From New Matilda By Matthew Kiem. The inspiring tale of activism that forced a major super fund to ditch a company in the misery business. The persistent pressure on HESTA to divest from Transfield Services Pty Ltd has landed a huge blow against the biggest contractor in the Australian detention industry. Read the full story.
From the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. By Joanne McCarthy. Transfield chairwoman Diane Smith-Gander has asked to meet with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson about the priest who won’t stop talking about Jesus, morals and asylum seekers. Father Rod Bower’s sign “Hesta Divests Transfield. Good on ya!” outside his Gosford church on August 18 after the superannuation fund divested its Transfield shares, and a tweet saying “Don’t invest in evil”, led to a call from Transfield and a request for a meeting. Read the full story.
AUGUST 31, 2015: Vice-Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, Sister Brigid Arthur, said today “it’s inconceivable that despite the abuses which have been inflicted on helpless people on Nauru and Manus Island, that the operator of those facilities, Transfield Services, has been awarded another 5 years to inflict even more harm”.
As a regular visitor to mainland detention centres, Sister Brigid Arthur works with women and children who have experienced sexual assault on Nauru. She said that “this company was paid $1.2 billion by Australian taxpayers to manage these gulags on Manus Island and Nauru. Transfield AND their sub-contractors should have been punished by their poor performance, not rewarded!”
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce, said “now the spotlight will really be on those investors – superannuation funds, mums and dads – who hold shares in Transfield Services.”
She said that Transfield were awarded the contracts the first time around in an uncompetitive process, which the Government of the day justified due to the hasty decision to re-open Nauru and Manus Island and the political need to get them up and running ‘overnight’.
This time around, Coleman said “there was enough time to run the competitive process with full due diligence being applied to competing companies. We’ve had so many inquiries including the Government’s Moss Review, which document a plethora of poor management procedures in Transfield’s Nauru centre, and which have led to the systematic sexual abuse of women and children. Most of this abuse goes largely unprosecuted and unpunished. Surely some of these poor performance issues should have found their way into the judging and scoring for this new round of contracts?”
In evidence given to the Senate Inquiry into recent sexual abuse legislation on Nauru, many submitters talked about the way the toilet areas have become dangerous places where sexual assaults often occur. Coleman said that “the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce will be calling on the government, and Transfield Services, to introduce basic safeguards – such as functioning and safe toilet facilities – into the contracts before they are signed by both parties. Surely that’s the least we can expect from a billion dollar deal.”
Further comment available from:
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739.
Sister Brigid Arthur, Vice Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0408 101 134
Members at the ALP National Conference reached a contentious agreement over the weekend to pursue a policy to turn back asylum seeker boats intercepted in Australian waters. Listen to the Taskforce’s Executive Officer, Misha Coleman, on ABC Radio National today.
Misha Coleman, executive officer of the Australia Churches Refugee Task Force, said in a statement that the new money was part of a “budget bonanza” for bad refugee policy.
“Cambodia is one of the few countries that has escaped an aid budget cut, while neighbouring Vietnam, Laos and [Myanmar] were all hit with 40 [per cent] budget cuts. I must say that the Cambodia government are great negotiators though,” she said.
“By agreeing to take up to 10 refugees from Australia and Nauru each year for four years, the aid budget provided nearly [A]$40 million. That’s $1 million [per] refugee, and that was only the original agreement; we’re now paying even more on top of the original deal”.
Speaking from Treasury after being released from the lock-up, Executive Officer Misha Coleman said; “the boats still haven’t stopped, but money keeps pouring down the sink for offshore detention. With images today of 8000 people sweltering in misery in boats in the Malacca Straits, how long can we continue the politics of deterrence, with a price tag of $811 million a year”.
The latest figures available from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection show that 120 Vietnamese are in Australian detention centres (6 per cent of the detention population).
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce joined the program to discuss the issue.
Refugee advocates and migrant-community groups say they fear for the safety of a boatload of asylum seekers recently turned back to Vietnam by the Australian navy. Read the full story and listen to the interview with Misha Coleman over on the SBS website.