8 November 2016:  An attempt to enshrine in law a total ban on all refugees who have no choice but to flee over oceans has been called out by the ALP, and we hope that other parties will follow the moral leadership shown by Mr Shorten today, says the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Speaking from Parliament House in Canberra today, Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said:

“This disgraceful proposal has been called out. But it’s not off the table yet, and we continue to worry about the potential for horse-trading over potential amendments.”

“An end to the race to the bottom on refugee policy is overdue. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of refugees being used as political pawns.

“The bipartisan commitment to offshore detention is crumbling as the policy becomes increasingly  impossible to defend.

“Once the nasty partisan point scoring is taken out of refugee politics, we are confident that a workable solution can be found to treat refugees humanely on Australian soil and prevent deaths at sea. There is a better way.”

The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Taskforce, said from the Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane today:

“This is the first positive move we have seen in our national discourse about people seeking asylum in years. The time has come to break with the simplistic rhetoric and have a proper national conversation about how we meet the needs of people who are fleeing war and persecution.”

Media enquiries and comment:

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