Following up on our Q&A
Thankyou to the huge audience of over 400 who attended our July event with Omar and Saad Al-Kassab, Julian Burnside and Kobra Moradi. After a spirited Q&A had to end, those who hadn’t been able to ask their questions were invited to leave them for us to answer. Here are those questions and our answers.
Q 1 – Many young people who hear stories and facts like we’ve heard tonight would be INSPIRED by them. How can we convince those who have the creativity and funds and access to equipment – to make A+ quality programmes that can REALLY show the truth of what we’ve heard tonight. ANSWER to Q 1.
Q 2 If Labor believes that it would be political suicide to change the current policy on asylum seekers, who is out there in the Australian community who supports this hard line” Does anyone know what proportion supports the status quo and what proportion of the community feels like the audience here tonight? ANSWER to Q 2
Q 3 To Julian: Could you tell us again where you find the quote about Australian values .. and could we then indict Dutton Turnbull etc on that statement. ANSWER to Q 3
Q 4 Worldwide it is estimated that there are around 40 million refugees, maybe more. Why can’t the UNHCR set up processing centres around the world where displaced persons can go to have their claims assessed expeditiously? They can then be sent to suitable countries for settlement. ANSWER to Q 4
Q 5 Can you explain what kind of visa current applicants can actually hope to get? (I’m concerned about their never getting PR). ANSWER to Q 5
Q 6: How do we create a campaign called “Are we really like this?” in which sportspeople, actors, musicians etc who are listened to by ordinary people can be asking the question? ANSWER to Q 6
Our current campaigns
Our Campaign Group and individual members continue to write letters putting the case for justice to asylum seekers and seeking information about policy from politicians. Letters have gone to all senators about the citizenship changes. As the enquiry draws to an end, we publicised report in a newsletter from Tony Burke that submissions negative to the legislation numbered over 10,000, whilst there were only two (2!) in favor. The Guardian reports language requirements may be ‘watered down’ but there’s been little news coming out from this important enquiry, and as the Age reported in June, it’s been far from transparent. We wrote to journalists highlighting these issues, and pointing out we are at risk of receiving a report from a non-transparent enquiry backed only by Peter Dutton’s Department & the Australian Monarchist League. Tony Burke is still taking signatures for a petition – read and if you wish sign it here. In latest news, crossbench opposition to the legislation promises hope it will be defeated. Write to the Nick Xenophone team affirming their decision and asking them to stick with it – we will!
The recent response from ALP Senator Jacinta Collins to MASSG is here.
ABC Fact Check has confirmed the description of the English Language test as demanding a university-level standard of English. ” “Interestingly, the language proficiency levels required for citizenship in European countries are equivalent to IELTS bands four to five. This means Australia’s requirement for citizenship would be higher than any other country in Europe, including Britain.”
Bipartisan policies on asylum seekers – our question to Labor parliamentarians.
In the hope that Labor can be helped to take a principled stand on the current crisis in offshore detention, our August meeting decided to write to all Labor Members of Parliament and Senators expressing our concern at Labor’s silence on human rights and legal justice issues, despite its declared platform commitment to ‘values of compassion, fairness and generosity… Labor believes that as a country Australia must not harm people.’
You can read here our Letter to Labor members It asks each of our Labor parliamentarians to answer a simple question: What do you propose should happen to the detainees currently on Manus and Nauru?
We learned a lot about Labor from this exercise. We had a long response from the Shadow Minister to our letter, on behalf of all the Labor recipients. And there were just three individual responses, one just a partial copy of his letter, from Susan Lamb MP. and two individually prepared letters, from Anne Aly and Linda Burney.)
You can read the letter from Shayne Neumann here. His response disappointed us in concentrating mainly on point-scoring against the Turnbull government, and not answering our question except with vague hope that the Government’s strategy will work. We have written thanking him for responding and asking what Labor would propose in the likely event that the US deal and ‘other third country resettlement arrangements’ do not resettle detainees. (We did note – and affirm – his reporting of the firm disagreement with the Government’s handling of medical transfers.)
We are writing to the only two Labor members who courteously addressed our question individually, and we’ll post our letters here. It won’t take long – there were sadly only two.
Behind the public events, MASSG quietly helps and supports individual asylum seekers. Our newsletters show the variety of our projects and actions.
Our Facebook page records our participation in current public events.
Our fundraising is ongoing. MASSG holds an annual fund-raising lunch. This year it was on Friday 6th October, our speaker was David Manne, human rights lawyer, migration agent and Executive Director of Refugee Legal. We raised over $3,000.