9 January 2021

Dear Mr Morrison,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. I live in the electorate of ***. I will be adding my voice to the voices of many others who value compassion, by writing a letter to your government every week until all refugees and asylum-seekers who remain on Nauru and in PNG under Operation Sovereign Borders are appropriately re-settled. We also seek humane treatment for refugees and asylum seekers on-shore. We are copying this letter to the Ministers and Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We were grateful to receive a reply (Ref No: MC20-035515) from a representative of the Minister for Home Affairs, with information about the number of refugees and asylum seekers in various kinds of detention in Australia, and off-shore under regional processing arrangements. In the light of this information, we have 3 specific questions to which re request answers.
1. As of 30 November 2020 there were 491 so-called ‘Illegal Maritime Arrivals’ held in various kinds of immigration detention in Australia, 186 of these in “Alternative Places of Detention”. Prime Minister, we are not reassured by your statements about these people that “the Government has contracted appropriately trained and experienced service providers to ensure the needs of transitory persons are adequately met, including provision of health and welfare services”. It is not possible to meet these people’s needs when the fundamental cause of their distress, i.e. prolonged detention, continues. They have already been detained for more than seven years. How long are you prepared to continue to lock these men up?

 2. In the information about children in detention, we do not see specific mention of the twp children from Biloela held with their parents on Christmas Island. We note that a grim milestone was reached this week in that this family has now been in immigration detention for more than 1000 days, and their detention on Christmas Island has now cost the Australian people $6million. While this family has perhaps been ignored in the statistics that the Department of Home Affairs has compiled, they are very much on our minds.  Will you instruct your Minister for Home Affairs to use his discretionary powers to allow this family to return to a community where they are fully integrated and where they will be able to make a contribution to our society?

3. Regarding the statement that “Australia appreciates the offer from the New Zealand Government to resettle refugees, however, we are focused on completing the much larger arrangement with the US”: We are pleased to see that 876 people from Nauru and PNG have been resettled in the USA so far, but we also note that 291 remain. Can you assure us that all of these will be settled in the USA this year, and if not, will you consider accepting the New Zealand offer for the remainder?

Yours faithfully,

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