Labor has recently moved to excise mainland Australia from the migration zone, meaning that any asylum seekers who reach Australia by boat will have restricted rights (including the right to appeal to the high court regarding their status) and be processed on Nauru or other offshore processing sites. Chris Bowen has said, “that the government was trying to remove any opportunity for people smugglers to make dangerous promises such as, “I can get you to the mainland, so you won’t be sent to Nauru”“, which is an implicit recognition of the terrible conditions on Nauru.
What can you do?
Call your local representative, who can be found by entering your postcode here: http://aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members
If they’re from the Labor Party, maybe quote from this speech made by Chris Bowen when the Liberals tried to do the same thing. You may also want to contact Chris Bowen’s office directly to remind him of his earlier statements on this issue:
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6277 7860Fax: (02) 6273 4144
If your local representative is a member of the Liberal Party, it may be useful to remind them that Liberal backbenchers revolted against the plan when it was first proposed by the Howard government.
No matter which party your local representative is from, you should remind them that asylum seekers are fellow humans in need of help. Most asylum seekers are (eventually, after far too long) found to meet the requirements for refugee status, and the number of people seeking asylum in Australia poses no threat to our security so it’s absolutely shameful that we’re using them as a political football to see which party can be ‘toughest’. (More here.)
You can also help by refusing to allow the scapegoating of refugees in the community around you. Asylum seekers, and all other immigrants, deserve our support. We should make them welcome in our communities, in the same way that we would wish to be supported and made welcome if we moved in search of a better life (which many Australians, including my family, have done). Correct people around you when they start talking about asylum seekers as a threat, or as receiving disproportionate benefits. Pass on the resources correcting myths about asylum seekers. Let people around you know that you will not accept or condone racism.