Send a Message to Canberra
Petition for a National Consensus on Refugees
Australia has been
bitterly divided by the refugee issue for many years. Our politicians
have been unable to come up with a sensible consensus that honours our
international obligations and the obligations of refugees to their own
homelands. Confusion and political division have prevailed for too long.
With a new political mood in Canberra, a sensible consensus is perhaps
With more than 60 million displaced people in the world, the refugee
issue is not going away soon. Even if Australia doubled or quadrupled
its humanitarian intake of 20,000 people as permanent residents, the
impact on the total number of displaced people will remain marginal. The
overwhelming humanitarian need is for short-term assistance and
provision of a safe haven for displaced people until such time as they
can safely return home. Permanent residency for refugees in countries
like Australia is not a solution to the displacement of 60 million
The UN Convention on
Refugees to which Australia is a signatory requires Australia to not
return displaced people to their homeland if their lives are at risk.
The Convention does not oblige Australia to accept asylum seekers as
permanent residents if they are found to be genuine refugees. Nor does
it oblige Australia to detain asylum seekers in detention centres, or
provide them with welfare benefits on arrival.
We need a national
consensus in responding to the refugee crisis. We need practical forms
of support for refugees which acknowledge the obligations of refugees to
their own homelands, and Australian obligations to support a significant
number of displaced people through this transition. We can and should
deter arrivals by boat. We can offer a temporary safe haven for many,
without detention centres or offshore processing, until it is safe to
return home. We can draw on civil society rather than contractors or
security guards to provide more effective temporary supports for
Australians to support the five propositions above. We believe these
five points form the basis for a workable national consensus on these
issues. We think Australians across the political spectrum, from conservative to radical, country to
city, right to left, will find this pragmatic people-based approach more
in keeping with Australian values.
We want one million Australians to sign this
Petition for a National Consensus on Refugees. In doing so,
we can start a process of
change on these issues. A grassroots
movement of ordinary Australians can stop politicians demeaning
themselves and restore common sense to Canberra.
Sign this petition. Send it on to your friends and networks. Become
involved. You'll be very welcome.