government lies

Refugees denied medical care on Manus

Dear Prime Minister,

Thirteen refugees who have been waiting in Port Moresby for months to receive medical treatment were dragged out of their motel at 3.30am on 23 February by PNG police and forced onto a plane back to Manus Island. Refugees on Manus have reported that there is no room for the returnees in West Haus but they have been left there even though there is nowhere for them to sleep. This is the second group of unwell refugees that have been returned to Manus without receiving medical treatment. The small hospital on Manus cannot provide anything but most basic health care and is often without drugs and basic equipment. This has been verified repeatedly by the refugees, by hospital staff, and by humanitarian agencies and other visitors. The Department of Home Affairs maintains the lie that health care is provided. Most urgently, refugees who need urgent psychiatric care are left untreated. At least two men have attempted suicide in the last week. It is only due to the constant attention and intervention by their fellow refugees that they are still alive.

Rohingyan refugees forced back to Myanmar

Dear Prime Minister,

Why won't you hold Minister Dutton to account? 

Yesterday, when he was asked on ABC 7:30 Report if Rohingyan refugees were being forced to go back to Myanmar he "appeared to tire of the questions". He then tried to attack the ABC for not mentioning the US resettlement news despite it having been announced on the news bulletin including a quote from you.

He lies. He evades. He misuses his power. Australia's refoulement of refugees is the most serious breach of the UN Refugee Convention. We are responsible for the well-being of every asylum seeker and refugee held offshore. Sack Dutton. Give amnesty to all women, men and children on Manus Island and Nauru.

Australia's lies

Dear Prime Minister,

...This week, the Dutton claim was that refugee policy goals are “frustrated” by the Constitution is utterly wrong, in law and in fact. Under s51(xxvii), the Commonwealth is constitutionally authorised to make laws with regard to immigration. This is not complex. There is no ambiguity. A constitutional head of power for the Commonwealth to make laws on migration exists and laws on migration it makes.
One such law is the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). The current policy is that anybody who arrives in the migration zone by boat to seek asylum will never be re-settled in Australia. This monstrosity is codified into s5AA, which defines “unlawful maritime arrival” to include babies born in Australia to asylum seekers we have forcibly sent to offshore detention.
Ponder this: Australia is predominantly ruled by people descended from boat arrivals — people who not only found asylum but have prospered from untold riches derived directly from stolen land. These people systematically murdered descendants of the actual first fleets, which arrived 60,000 years ago and produced descendants like Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, who constantly boasts that this is the most successful multicultural nation on earth. White people presume to define what is “un-Australian” in the public debate and have defined at law who is un-Australian forever, based on their mode of arrival being by boat.
All are equal before the law. Refugees have legal rights. Murder is always wrong and thus mass murder is too. It is logically impossible to enter somebody else’s land and then slaughter them in self-defence. No, the free speech “right” of Andrew Bolt to disseminate harmful racist nonsense can not be reconciled with summary offences used to criminalise black people who say “fuck” near a police officer.
— Ingrid Matthews, Western Sydney University School of Law

Prime Minister, get out of this sewer of lies. Change the vile Immigration act which expressly demonises and punishes asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Give amnesty to all detainees on Manus Island and Nauru.

End offshore detention. Bring all refugees here. #349

Dear Prime Minister,

The seven Australians who are on trial for their protest at Parliament House last year against offshore detention have entered a plea of not guilty. This is their statement:

Today seven WACA members stood trial charged with “Destroy, Damage Commonwealth Property”. We have entered a plea of not guilty, and have exercised our right to be heard by a jury. We maintain our innocence in this matter.
On the 30th of November last year, we travelled to Parliament to speak directly to our representatives. Refugees and asylum seekers have been detained in our name for too long and the Australian Government’s policies are killing innocent people.
We needed to tell our representatives directly that they are complicit in the rape, torture and child abuse of innocent people who have been imprisoned indefinitely for the simple act of asking for help. We did this because we have the privilege to speak when others cannot. Every day on Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island is another day in hell; every single person in offshore detention must be evacuated to safety immediately.
The Australian Government’s recent out-of-court settlement with the men of Manus Island highlights the Government’s stark understanding of their complicity in this abuse; abuse that they do not want on the public record. This Government must explain to the Australian people what their intention is for the men of Manus. These men came to us fleeing persecution and seeking our protection. The Australian government is obligated under International Law to provide asylum, however it denies the basic rights of these people and further traumatises them.
Every person has the right to seek asylum, and to live in freedom and safety; when will the Australian Government extend this right to every man, woman and child held in offshore detention?
Neither the Government nor the Opposition can be trusted whilst Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island Immigration prisons remain open. Both sides of politics continue to violate human rights, through indefinite detention, support of boat turn-backs, and by refusing to take responsibility for the resulting deaths at sea.
It is clear that the Government’s offshore detention policy has failed. Australia has become a world leader in cruelty. The policy is in direct violation of the UN Convention on Refugees. The Government’s “US Deal” is nothing but a desperate attempt to disguise the establishment of a permanent island prison on Nauru.
For years we have attempted to make ourselves heard through more conventional means. We have written letters and signed petitions, we have attended rallies and speak outs, we have held sit-ins and we have blockaded in attempts to stop deportations to danger. We have reached a critical moment in Australia’s history, a moment when these methods are no longer enough. We have been unable to reach those in power, our so-called representatives. We are now in a state of emergency. We are in the midst of an humanitarian crisis. We took direct action inside our Parliament House in an attempt to be heard. We called out to our elected representatives to demand that they end their inhumane policies.
We cannot remain silent whilst innocent people are imprisoned and tortured in our name. We call on the Australian people to rise with us in solidarity with those who rise every day on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru, and demand we take the higher road, a road to freedom, humanity and respect for all peoples on this earth.

The 4th reply from DIBP

This is the fourth letter I have received from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. I have not yet received any reply from the Prime Minister.

This is the text of the letter:

Dear Ms Halbert

Thank you for your correspondence of 10, 11 and 12 April 2017 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the detainee known as ‘Saeed’, as well as the Australian Government’s regional processing and settlement arrangements in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as the matters raised fall within his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.

In order to protect privacy, under the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, it would be inappropriate for me to provide detailed information about the particular circumstances of ‘Saeed’.

While I cannot provide specific details about his case, I can confirm that this individual is receiving appropriate care for his needs, and his immigration detention placement is appropriate to his circumstances.

The  Migration Act 1958 requires applicants to establish a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion in all areas of their home country. People who are found to be refugees must also satisfy health, character and security checks before they can be granted a visa.

People who are found not to be refugees in Australia have been appropriately assessed to determine whether they engage Australia’s protection obligations. Where an asylum seeker is found not to engage Australia’s protection obligations and has exhausted all administrative and judicial avenues for appeal, they have no lawful basis for remaining in Australia and are therefore expected to depart. Those who do not depart voluntarily will be subject to removal from Australia. Removals occur only after all processing has been completed and do not occur where this would place Australia in breach of its international obligations relating to the return of non-citizens.

People transferred and accommodated at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) are treated with respect and dignity and in accord with human rights standards. The Australian Government has contracted appropriately trained and experienced service providers to ensure that residents’ needs are adequately met, including the provision of health and welfare services.

Good quality, nutritious, culturally appropriate food is provided and served three times daily. Beverages and snacks are available at all times. Special meals are prepared for religious festivals and cultural or medical reasons.

Residents at the Manus RPC are supplied with ample clothing for daily needs. Where new or extra clothing is needed, the service provider will purchase and supply these items without charge. Toiletries are supplied as required.

The Government of PNG is responsible for processing the protection claims of people transferred to the Manus RPC. People found to be refugees can settle in PNG and may also be considered for resettlement in the United States.

People found not to be refugees are encouraged to return to their country of origin or to a third country where they have a right to reside. Substantial assistance is available to help people return home voluntarily and re-establish their lives. Non-refugees who do not depart voluntarily are liable to removal by the PNG Government. The Australian Government will support PNG in these arrangements.

The Government of PNG, with Australia’s support, is working towards the closure of the Manus RPC by 31 October 2017. After this date, Australia will cease to have an ongoing role in regional processing arrangements in PNG.

The scheduled closure of the Manus RPC does not change the Australian Government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s borders and combatting maritime people smuggling. The regional processing and settlement arrangements in Nauru will continue and Australia will retain an enduring regional processing capacity in that country. Neither refugees nor non-refugees will be settled in Australia.

The Government remains to regional processing and resettlement and stopping the scourge of people smugglers and deaths at sea.

Thank you for bringing your views to the Government’s attention.

Yours sincerely
— Director ABF Ministerial Correspondence Section Support Group - Australia Border Force 22 May 2017

No health care on Nauru

Dear Prime Minister

Listen to the recorded conversation between a refugee on Nauru and his doctor, who has tried for 10 months to get him an urgent MRI. The doctor says 'the medical system here is broken.'

Mark Colvin said, in his interview with Richard Fidler, to ask the simple questions. Good advice.

Who benefits when the Nauru hospital refuses to provide refugee patients with prescribed healthcare?

How much is the Government of Nauru paid to deny overseas referrals for gravely ill refugees?


For the 286th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

The five judges of the PNG Supreme Court ruled unanimously last year that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus island was both illegal and unconstitutional. PNG's Prime Minister O'Neill has said that Australia must make 'alternative arrangements.' Ferrovial/Transfield, who run the camp under contract to the Australian government has said they will no longer run detention centres. In fact, they can break their contract at any time, since an illegal contract is unenforceable. Further, the Ferrovial employees are risking imprisonment of up to three years by continuing to work on Manus and Nauru. Professor Blackshield said that Australian government members could be charged with criminal conduct as the contracting principals of the detention centres.

The onus of changing the policy and making alternative arrangements belongs entirely to the Australian government. Why has this not been done?

Australia closes its borders. To everyone.

Dear Prime Minister,

Today's report of your "tough new stand on immigration" reveals the source of your and Australia's inhumanity to refugees. You use innuendo and negative stereotyping to imply that people who come to Australia either as refugees or immigrants are determined to be criminal, diseased, lazy and greedy. You inflame the paranoid feelings of a minority who delude themselves that their idea of a fixed, closed Australia which they can control is their right.

All of us except Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are migrants or descendants of migrants. Out of the other side of your mouth you would claim that Australia is 'great' because of the people who arrived in the last 230 years. Yet now you want to block entry to the very people who would add energy, creativity and wealth to Australia. Federal officials warn

The proposed reforms could undermine Australia’s social cohesion and potentially increase the risk factors that may lead to violent extremism by creating a two-tier society where migrants are treated substantially differently to Australian citizens.
— Katharine Murphy,

I want to leave in a peaceful, outward-looking Australia. Your proposals will create the opposite.

The second reply from DIBP

The letter below is the second reply I have received to my letters. It is written by an official of Minister Dutton's department (Immigration and Border Protection). I have not received any reply to my letters from Prime Minister Turnbull or his office. The first reply I received from DIBP, in August 2016, is here.