Tuesday, 17 December 2013

An Open Letter to the Abbott Government

Now I normally don't write letters to politicians, but occasionally some things get my goat so much that I feel obliged to break my own rules. If you feel as I do you're welcome to use my text in your own letter.

The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP Prime Minister of Australia

Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC, Attorney-General
The Hon. Scott Morrison, MP Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers

I'm alternately shocked and saddened by the depths to which the Australian Government will plunge in its asylum seeker and refugee policy. I call on you to embrace the fundamental Australian value of a 'fair go' and reverse the un-Australian policies of this and previous governments.

The conditions that asylum seekers are being kept in are worse than those we keep people who have been convicted of the most heinous crimes.

We are now asking refugees to abide by standards of behaviour in regards to harassment, intimidation and bureaucratic compliance that even members of parliament would have trouble abiding by. Any person (citizen, refugee, resident or visitor) who breaks Australian law should be held accountable, but that is the purpose of the criminal justice system.

The worst part is that the 'problems' of boat people, queue jumpers and deaths at sea are largely of our own making. We've restricted the opportunities for people fleeing persecution to apply for a visa and enter Australia by air. We've confiscated boats and imprisoned crew, ensuring that only the most unseaworthy vessels are sailed and then abandoned.

By providing safe, alternative means to seek asylum we could largely eliminate these problems, for example through relaxing visa restrictions in known asylum seeker source countries. Processing asylum applications should be swift, transparent and fair.

Once here refugees should be given the opportunity to integrate into the community and contribute to our economy. The expense of welfare payments for refugees is exacerbated by not letting them work.
These policy measures may or may not be reducing the number of refugee arrivals, but that is beside the point.

This Government and its members have often preached about values and morals. The blatant disregard of individual rights, the despicable treatment of other human beings and the demonisation of a group of people who have few means to fight back all for the purpose of winning a few votes shows us the true morals of this government:

To win at any cost, even if that means selling the souls of the Australian people and condemning others to a hell on earth. 

PS for Ministerial and Departmental Staff: I'm not interested in a pro-forma response or one written by a junior bureaucrat, so please don't send me one.

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