Letter Writing Campaign – Focus for September

Materials for Letter Writers (Contacts, Tips, etc.)

Issues requiring immediate and ongoing attention:
Conditions on Manus Island

The Canberra Times published an article on Sunday about Canberra RAC member Tim McKenna’s visits to Manus Island. It’s a good article describing the inadequate medical care available to cope with the very poor health conditions of the men being held on Manus. Articles like this have the capacity to generate a deeper understanding among the public about the desperate situation for the people on Manus and Nauru. It would be great if we could get some letters to the editor thanking the CT for the article, and encouraging them to publish more on this issue.

Recent reporting in The Guardian has brought to light some very worrying changes in conditions for the men on Manus, with their weekly allowances and daily food rations stopped as the PNG government is relocating them from Manus to Pt. Moresby. Furthermore others, who have not been recognised as refugees by PNG, are being held in a PNG prison, apparently indefinitely, being denied access to lawyers and mobile phones, and blocked from the Medevac processes.

Medevac repeal bill

The Morrison government has signaled that it might bring the Medevac Repeal bill to a vote in Parliament as early as next week, instead of waiting until the Senate inquiry reports on their findings in late October. The Medevac repeal bill has already been passed in the House of Representatives.  With Labor, the Greens and Centre Alliance committed to opposing it, the Government will need Jacqui Lambie’s vote for the bill to pass the Senate. Senator Lambie says she wants the Senate inquiry to proceed so that she can consider the findings before she makes a decision on how she will vote. I won’t attempt to second guess how Senator Lambie will play the politics of this or how she will ultimately vote on this. Perhaps some letters of support to her which: 1) thank her for taking this principled position and 2) briefly outline why Medevac should not be repealed, might persuade her to take a humanitarian stance.  For reference, I’ve attached RAC’s submission to the Senate inquiry which outlines the arguments against repealing Medevac.


Biloela Tamil family awaiting deportation

While this has become such a high profile case, evoking considerable public sympathy and from some unexpected supporters, it’s a good opportunity for us to write letters to the editor and to our MPs (Download Contact List) supporting a ‘common sense’ approach to such decisions. With all the recent publicity having put real human faces and stories to “refugees and asylum seekers”, it does seem as if we might be seeing a bit of a breakthrough in public attitude and willingness to see beyond the ugly, manipulative power politics of refugee policy in Australia and to look at the human lives involved. Today’s Guardian has a comprehensive article by Ben Doherty about the Minister’s powers and Peter Dutton’s use of them.

Thank you for your continued support for RAC’s letter writing efforts. It’s important! Let us not be part of Scott Morrison’s contingent of ‘quiet Australians’!

“Rather than passive and uninterested citizens who cast their compulsory vote every three years, Australia needs vocal, engaged, informed and committed citizens. Citizens who understand their obligations, and how their parliaments, laws and Constitution work.”(Mark McKenna, The Monthly, July 2019)

Sources: Image sourced from flickr.com, “Writing” by Photographer Caitlin Regan, used under license