Statement on the new legislation regarding asylum seekers
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS), as a Jewish group particularly sensitive to the plight of those seeking protection, is appalled by the migration legislation that was passed overnight. The bill introduces new temporary visas and gives the Minister for Immigration new sweeping powers to control the fate of people who attempt to come to Australia seeking asylum. It ensures that refugees cannot appeal decisions, and that they can be detained, deported, and refouled at the Minister’s will. This legislation has been opposed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Committee Against Torture, and the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, as well as numerous community groups, NGOs and refugee and asylum seeker organisations. We stand alongside them, disgusted and ashamed by this government, which routinely works against its international obligations and duties under the Refugee Convention. This legislation reinforces the impoverished vision of Australia as a place which needs to protect itself from asylum seekers rather than offering protection to them; a place where border protection has become a mantra that drowns out the cries of those who seek safety; a place where the cruelty of our politicians mirrors an attitude far too pervasive in our society. The passage of legislation such as this insulates us from our international protection responsibilities and endangers those most in need of safety. This is simply not acceptable. Increased public pressure needs to be put on this government to end mandatory detention, release all asylum seekers from detention with appropriate support mechanisms and process all those who seek our protection regardless of their mode of arrival. The AJDS calls for everyone to do what they can to be part of this desperately needed pressure.