My condolences to any of you who have suffered losses because of the bush fires. With the terrible heat and the threat of bush fires on our doorstep again, I appreciate that the next days are going to be busy and stressful for many people, especially those of us in Canberra’s southern suburbs. But I am still hoping that we can all find a few minutes to do some letter writing. Parliament reconvenes this coming Tuesday 4 February. My understanding is that Tuesday’s sitting will be dedicated to condolences in relation to the recent bush fires; normal business will resume on Wednesday.
Much of the focus in Parliament is, rightly, probably going to be on the two issues garnering most of the media’s and politicians’ attention at the moment: 1) the bush fires, and the Government’s response, and 2) the spread of coronavirus and the Government’s response. While it is critical that these issues are examined by Parliament, it is also important that we keep refugee issues in the forefront of our MPs minds.
At its recent annual planning meeting, RAC Canberra decided to broaden the scope of the campaign this year (see a summary of the planning meeting here). However, I suggest that our letters/phone calls at this time focus on drawing the MPs attention back to the terrible situation of offshore detention. There seems to be a mindset that it is all ‘getting sorted’ through the US resettlement deal, but it is not. The US is refusing to take many of the refugees who applied for resettlement in the US. We must remind our MPs that there are still many hundreds of men, women and children -who have committed no offense – being held in detention (offshore and onshore, community detention and secure locked detention); and that this needs to be addressed immediately. Many of the people in detention are in very poor mental and physical health, having endured years of ill-treatment, abuse and neglect while in the ‘care’ of the Australian government. PLEASE continue to lobby for the immediate safe resettlement of everyone. It is urgent. These people are desperate. In connection with this, you might also like to follow Craig Foster’s Game Over campaign for freedom for the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and in PNG.
Write to your MP and demand answers to these questions:
- What will it take for Australia to accept the New Zealand deal?
- What are the resettlement plans for all the refugees and asylum seekers left in PNG and Nauru if Australia does not accept the NZ deal?
The Government’s plans to use Christmas Island detention centre as a coronavirus quarantine area for people returning from China, has brought with it the opportunity to put the plight of the family from Biloela back in the public’s attention. Please follow the link and participate in the campaign for justice for this family. It is asking you to write or phone your local MP and Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge. The link has suggested wording and other tips for your letters and phone calls. You can view the contact details for local MPs via our Materials for Letter Writers link at the top of this page.
Best regards, Eileen