The recent death of a man on Manus Island who had sought asylum in Australia, points to the unacceptable mistreatment of all people who are turned away from our shores.
Common Grace is thoroughly opposed to the Government’s proposed legislative amendments that would see people who seek asylum in Australia and arrive by boat permanently banned from entering Australia.
We believe these proposed changes are cruel, unnecessary and further entrench a policy of deterrence that is increasingly proving to be flawed and inhumane.
We therefore call on all our political leaders to first vote against these abhorrent proposed legislative changes for the following reasons:
- Statistically, the vast majority of people who seek asylum in Australia and arrive by boat are found to be genuine(1), yet it is these people who would suffer the lifetime ban proposed in these changes.
Hence the proposed changes enshrine a lifetime punishment for genuinely desperate people who seek safety in Australia. Punishing the innocent (even as a means of deterrence) is inconsistent with Australian values.
2. Our current policy provides no safe pathway for a person who is in genuine need of safety and does not have access to applying for asylum through the UNHCR, and therefore arrives in Australia by boat.
We know that such people exist and seek asylum in Australia from our own records. Given our failure to offer this group a safe alternative pathway, these proposed amendments are grossly unfair and there is no purpose to be served in further entrenching our policy flaws with extreme legislative measures such as those proposed by the Government.
3. As Christians, we believe that every human is made in the image of God and therefore inherently valuable. We also know that Jesus instructed us clearly to welcome those who come to us seeking safety and show them hospitality.
These proposed legislative changes fail to recognise the inherent worth of each person, with each person’s dignity traded for a political purpose.
4. As Christians, we believe in “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
We know that if we were in the same position, we would hope to be treated with respect, and offered a safe place to live whilst our individual applications for asylum assessed on their merits. We would not wish to be permanently punished simply because we were desperate and asked the wrong country for help.
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In addition to opposing the proposed amendments and in direct contrast to their cruel spirit, we urge our political leaders to instead publicly affirm the wonderful contribution that people who have sought asylum in Australia (many of them arriving by boat) have made and continue to make to our nation. They are resourceful and tenacious individuals who embody the Aussie spirit and who deserve to be met with that national value we prize so much – a fair go.
Send an email to your MP asking them to vote against these proposed changes.
(1) Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts? Updated 2 March 2015, Janet Phillips, Social Policy Section