Labor for Refugees made a submission to the National Policy Forum which is considering changes to Labor’s National Platform prior to the 2018 National Conference. Subsequently, a draft was issued by the NPF and members were invited to make comments and further submissions.
Labor for Refugees has now made the following further submissions to the National Policy Forum. Our November 2017 amendments appear in red font and the more recent ones are in blue font.
The following is the Motion that was carried in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 24th August 2017:
MOTION IN THE ACT LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY re MANUS ISLAND AND NAURU
For Thursday 24th August 2017
Shane Rattenbury, MLA to move – That this Assembly:
- Acknowledges the ACT Government’s ongoing commitment to upholding the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers, by reaffirming that:
- The ACT is the only Australian state or territory to have declared itself a Refugee Welcome Zone, and is one of 148 Refugee Welcome Zones across Australia – including councils and shires from every state. As a Refugee Welcome Zone we welcome refugees in our community, act to uphold their human rights, demonstrate compassion for refugees, and work to enhance our cultural and religious diversity; and
- The ACT is proud to be part of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa Scheme. This underlines the commitment of both the ACT Government and the broader community to welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers.
- Notes that:
- The Manus Island detention facility and the Nauru Regional Processing Centre have been unequivocally shown, via multiple reports from reputable sources, including the United Nations, to be extremely unsafe and inappropriate places, yet over 2000 refugees – including 169 children – have been imprisoned for four years in these inhumane and degrading conditions;
- Refugees in these processing centres have been subjected to violent attacks, sexual violence, inadequate medical care, and harassment involving mothers, fathers and children as young as six;
- The United Nations has repeatedly criticised Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers including by saying: “The consensus among medical experts is that conditions of detention and offshore processing do immense damage to physical and mental health” and “[T]he Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations… that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre, has violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment…”;
- On 8 August 2017, the UNHCR said it is “is gravely concerned by deteriorating conditions at the Manus Island ‘Regional Processing Centre’, as authorities seek to relocate people to Lorengau or elsewhere in Papua New Guinea. The announcement of the closure of the Centre, in the absence of appropriate alternatives, is causing acute distress among refugees and asylum-seekers”; and
- It is past time for this damaging, cruel and inhumane policy to end.
- Writes to the Federal Government, requesting that it:
- Immediately removes all refugees and asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru; and
- Brings all refugees and asylum seekers to Australia to be resettled in Australia’s 148 Refugee Welcome Zones where they can build new lives within this network of compassionate and caring communities committed to upholding their rights.
- Declares that: The ACT Government is willing and ready to settle refugees and asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru in Canberra as part of a national program of resettlement.
The Motion was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 24th August – by Shane Rattenbury, Leader of The GREENS in the Legislative Assembly.
- The idea for the development of the Motion is a result of a combined efforts of a number of people including active members of the #ManusLivesMatter support group.
- Approximately forty people went along to sit in the Gallery and hear Shane Rattenbury speak to the Motion. After Shane spoke to it, all the people in the Gallery gave a long, standing ovation. Our Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry (ALP) also spoke in support of the Motion. Alistair Coe (LIBs) rose to speak against it.
- The LIBs abstained from voting.
- Happily – the Motion was ‘carried’.
The Chief Minister, Andrew Barr wrote to Peter Dutton (on 6th October). In his letter Andrew:
- let him know The Motion was passed in the Assembly on 24 August.
- restated the ACT’s long history as an inclusive community, is a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’ and part of the SHEV program.
- restated how the ACT Govt is committed to resettling refugees and asylum seekers from Manus & Nauru.
- asked Dutton to immediately remove all refugees and asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru and resettle them in the Refugee Welcome Zones across Australia.
- stated how the ACT Govt welcomes all efforts of the Commonwealth Govt to resettle asylum seekers in Canberra.