Breaking News Reports filed by Australian Associated Press late this afternoon confirm that the Migration Amendment Bill 2006, roundly condemned by Senators of all sides in politics in the Report of the Inquiry into the Bill - see
.. will indeed be tabled again and scheduled for debate in Federal Parliament.
Most of you would know how this time, more MPs in the Liberal/National Coalition had serious concerns with the Bill, and how the media reported a number of about ten "dissenters" in the backbenches of government.
The tens of thousands of people right around Australia who pushed against the wall of abusive treatment of asylum seekers and refugees arriving by boat since TAMPA five years ago, have been one of the most powerful forces in Australian politics since the Vietnam War, and if you receive this email from us, you can be assured that we count you as one of the people participating in this mighty push against that wall.
Below is a list of some Senators selected by ChilOut as those you need to approach before the Bill gets tabled - listed for debate as early as next Tuesday, August 8.
In addition to the names below (ChilOut did an excellent job in adding some detail about these Senators), we also add three more Government Senators who were on the Committee of Inquiry, and who endorsed the Report with as its first Recommendation that the Bill should be scuttled. While concessions were offered by Mr Howard, the Bill remains a disgrace - see some more detail below.
The Senate Inquiry Senators:
Senator Marise Payne, Liberal Party, New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9893-5151
Senator Brett Mason, Liberal Party, Queensland
Phone: (07) 3422-1990
Senator Nigel Scullion, Country Liberal Party, Northern Territory
Phone: (08) 8948-3555
The remainder of this email draws together some excellent material as presented by ChilOut in its latest emailed Call to Action (from 2 August 2006). So in using this material, we acknowledge the work of ChilOut:
... and also thanks to Steve Biddulph. Mr Biddulph sponsors the ChilOut Newsletter.
This Call to Action also draws on the work of A Just Australia:
URGENT Call to Action 2 August 2006
Parliament resumes on 8 August and the Government will try to push through the amended Pacific Solution expansion bill on that day. That is next Tuesday. The Liberal MPs who have opposed the Bill have done so with the support of the community and they need it to continue, now more crucially than ever before.
ChilOut is asking you to concentrate on 4 key senators who have not yet made up their minds whether they will cross the floor and vote against the amended Bill. Please contact these Senators this week and tell them your opinion of the proposal in its latest amended form. Tell them it is STILL not acceptable to the Australian people.
1. If you are a Christian, ring Steve Fielding, Family First Senator
Please passionately remind him that the Christian community is looking to him to represent them and act on his convictions. He has made plenty of noise on refugees but never acted so NOW is the crucial time for him to act.
Tel: (03) 9802-1922
2. If you are a personal friend of refugees, ring Barnaby Joyce, Nationals Senator
You should focus on how well your refugee friends have assimilated into Australian society. This is a concern of his, "social upheaval" (as he put it in an email to a ChilOut supporter), caused by too-different-from-us people entering society. He needs reassurance that there won't be social unrest as a result of new Australians' presence!!!
Tel: (07) 4625-1500
3. Russell Trood, Liberal Senator
Also from QLD, he has shown a strong interest in human rights and social justice but has not committed himself to voting against the Bill. He needs encouragement - particularly if you are from QLD.
Tel: (07) 3372-4555
4. Brett Mason, Liberal Senator
Another QLD Senator who hasn't made up his mind yet. Please ring him and tell him why he should use his power as a Senator to stop children being sent to Nauru ever again.
Tel: (07) 3422-1990
We mustn't let the Government get away with this. We must remind the politicians that despite it being the winter recess, we have not forgotten the amended Bill and they are being very closely watched.
Reminder of why we don't want the Bill passed
(with thanks to A Just Australia)
1. Children will once again be detained
Children arriving in Australia by boat will be sent to Nauru or Manus Island, rather than being transferred into community detention houses. Any "alternative detention" for women and children will be in Nauru and still detention (deprived of liberty, not free to come and go, NOT community detention). Also it would split up families if it is only for women and children.
2. Recognised refugees won't be resettled here
There is no guaranteed resettlement for refugees from Nauru. According to the Prime Minister, Australia will be a resettlement country "of last resort" so people could be detained on Nauru for years while they wait for approval to live in Australia. After all, the Department of Immigration has considered it "reasonable" to continue to imprison stateless people for more than four years after their refugee status has been recognised, preventing their resettlement in Australia.
3. No RRT or judicial review
The amendments still attempt to prevent refugees whose claims are rejected by Department (DIMA) officers from having their cases reviewed by the legal system. Judicial review has proven to be vital for ensuring that refugees are granted the protection they deserve. For instance, from 2002-2005 there were 473 refugees who had their claims rejected by both DIMA and the RRT but were subsequently recognised as refugees by the courts. Hundreds of people therefore rely on the Australian courts to ensure that they are not sent back to countries where they will suffer persecution.
4. They are held under Nauruan law
Many of these amendments are merely guidelines and the Australian government has no power to ensure that they will be implemented in practice. This is because while asylum seekers will be detained on behalf of the Australian government, they will be detained under Nauruan law, not Australian law. This means the Nauruan government, as a sovereign nation, will have the ultimate authority over the treatment of asylum-seekers and their processing arrangements. Given that Nauru is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, can we really expect the Nauruan government to abide by the international standards for the treatment of refugees, particularly if Australia is not taking real steps to ensure those standards are being met?
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