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Issue #1756      November 9, 2016

Turnbull turns to refugee bashing

The Turnbull government’s announcement that it intends to ban for life, asylum seekers and refugees, who attempted to travel to Australia by boat after July 19, 2013, has been dismissed as political grandstanding by the Refugee Action Coalition.

“This is a desperate headline-grabbing announcement from a Prime Minister who is now less popular than Tony Abbott, and a government that is trailing Labor in the polls. The Turnbull government is shamefully attempting to pre-empt a looming PNG Supreme Court action that seeks orders for the asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island to be returned to Australia,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

The PNG Supreme Court action seeking compensation for human rights breaches and an order to return the Manus detainees was dismissed on a technicality on October 27. But already over 600 detainees on Manus Island have signed court applications to ensure the court action can be resumed, perhaps as early as December.

“The announcement is proof positive that the government recognises that its claim that refugees from Manus and Nauru would never come to Australia is just bluster. The government is trying to hide the fact that its offshore detention regime is disintegrating. Leaders of both PNG and Nauru have appealed for international help to resettle refugees, but the government has tried to bury its head in the sand.

“Turnbull’s lifetime ban must be opposed,” said Rintoul, “It is disgraceful that Bill Shorten and other Labor leaders have not yet completely rejected the proposal. Some Labor MPs have spoken out against the ban. They can help ensure that the Labor Party acts to kill off this draconian and misjudged legislation and declare they will vote against it.”

Rintoul said that the inherently discriminatory legislation is also legally dubious and would likely face a constitutional challenge even if it did pass the parliament.

“Offshore detention has already divided husbands and wives and parents from children, brothers from sisters. Turnbull’s threat of a lifetime ban would mean more divided partners and families. But people have had enough of cruel Coalition policies.”

Catholic bishops are just the latest to call on the Coalition government to “Bring Them Here”.

Next article – Disabled people lead the fight against austerity

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