Thanks for your response. I’m sure the half-truths and hopeful assurances you provided helps you sleep well at night, however it doesn’t help me.
I don’t sleep very well at night knowing that people- lawful asylum seekers- are being raped, mutilated, tortured and psychologically scarred for life in my name. All sanctioned by the government you are part of.
I don’t sleep very well knowing that children (not to mention adults) are being sent to be processed and released to a country where malaria is an everyday risk, HIV/AIDS and cholera is endemic, tuberculosis, typhoid and hepatitis is prevalent and carjackings, assaults (including sexual assaults), bag snatching and robberies are common. (All of this from the Australian Government website).
I don’t sleep very well knowing that even when people are granted a visa in Australia, they are not entitled to work to support themselves and their families, start to make a life and pay taxes, which they would dearly love to do. I can’t believe the Australian Government is so devoid of imagination that the best they can do is abuse and deny the rights of existing lawful asylum seekers in Australia, in a bizarre attempt to discourage potential asylum seekers from getting on boats. I find it bitterly ironic that we are using these people, who are here, living in the community right now, as examples of what will happen to people in other countries who might be considering an attempt to get here. Would you consider treating prisoners in jails more harshly in an attempt to discourage people from committing crimes? Apparently they are not human beings, they are precautionary tales. I must remember to tell them that next time I see them lining up for donations of food.
I don’t sleep well with your assurance that 50 AFP officers will be sent to PNG, and they will make a significant difference to the lawlessness that pervades there. Is that a joke?
I don’t sleep well with your assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect, because I have no reason to disbelieve every word of Rod St George, the former Head of Occupational Health and Safety at Manus Island and his stories of appalling conditions, rape, torture and more. All sanctioned by the government you are part of. Even your Minister Tony Burke believes him, judging by his sudden trip there to investigate and the actions that have followed and will follow.
HOWEVER, I do agree with your assertion that Australians have had enough of seeing asylum seekers dying in the waters to our north. To this end, I have attached The Greens policy approach, released today. I wholeheartedly support every one of its thoroughly achievable aims. This is a great opportunity for the government to work outside of the bitterness of party politics that your people endlessly moan about and implement REAL solutions to REAL problems RIGHT NOW. So that we can STOP torturing children, women and men who just want a better life for themselves and their families.
I also agree that “the Australian people have had enough of people smugglers profiting from death”. And I welcome anything the Government can do to help the Indonesian Government find those smugglers, get them prosecuted through Indonesian courts and shut down their trade. Because the trite, meaningless soundbite you reiterated might sound tough and get some cut-through in the suburbs,, but blaming and punishing the VICTIMS of the people smugglers- asylum seekers- is not ACTUALLY doing anything to stop people smugglers. And it STILL doesn’t help me sleep at night.
From: “Thomson, Kelvin (MP)” <Kelvin.Thomson.MP@aph.gov.au>
Dear Mr Holmes,
Thank you for your email regarding the Australian Government’s recent announcement that asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.
I have noted your concerns and make the following observations in response:
1. The PNG Government has already made clear commitments that transferees will be treated with dignity and respect and in accordance with human rights standards.
Australia will also be deploying 50 Australian Federal Police in visible policing roles in parts of PNG as a starting point for cooperation on law and order with PNG.
This forms part of Australia’s commitment to its regional neighbour in helping address law and order issues.
2. We will implement these arrangements in a manner that is consistent with our international obligations.
PNG is a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees and will remove its reservations to the Convention for people covered by this arrangement. Asylum seekers found to be refugees would be resettled in PNG with appropriate support from the PNG Government.
Those transferred and accommodated in PNG will be treated with dignity and respect and in accordance with human rights standards.
They will not be returned to their place of persecution, and the obligations of the convention will be adhered to.
3. We are not walking away from our commitment to refugees.
Under our new policy, Australia will continue to take genuine refugees from around the world under the normal processes of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Australia is in the top three nations of the world for refugee resettlement, with Canada and the US, out of 22 UNHCR/Refugee Convention nations which operate a dedicated resettlement program.
Australia has increased its refugee intake to 20,000 places a year.
This is the largest increase to Australia’s humanitarian intake in 30 years.
If our changes mean there are significantly less people arriving by boat, the Government will consider increasing our humanitarian intake to 27,000 as recommended by the Houston Panel.
4. Australians have had enough of seeing asylum seekers dying in the waters to our north.
They’ve had enough of people smugglers profiting from death.
The fact is we have a responsibility to adjust and change our policies in response to the evolving circumstances.
There is nothing compassionate about allowing people to continue to drown at sea. It is also not compassionate to not do what we can for people who have been languishing in refugee camps around the world.
5. If someone does arrive by boat, and is assessed as a refugee, and is settled in Australia, that’s one less place in that 20,000 that would otherwise go to someone who is in a camp somewhere else in the world.
We have an obligation to do our bit to help the thousands of asylum seekers who languish in refugee camps around the world for as long as a decade as they use the normal processes for seeking asylum.
6. Our policy is quite different from the Opposition.
This issue is too complex to be addressed by a cheap three word slogan.
Indonesia has made clear that Mr Abbott’s solution and any unilateral action is unacceptable to them. That is why our response is one based on domestic action and regional co-operation.
7. Everyone who arrives after the announcement will be transferred once health checks are complete and appropriate accommodation is available.
Exempting children would simply encourage people smugglers to put children on boats to Australia.
Appropriate arrangements will be available for children and families.
I hope this information is of assistance to you. I have a long-standing interest in finding real solutions for what is a real problem. If you can point me in the direction of a country – there are 200 to choose from – which has successfully implemented a superior policy, please let me know and I will undertake to investigate their approach.
Kelvin Thomson MP