24 October 2020

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 have been detained 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.

While the focus of media coverage is on the global pandemic, we choose to remember those people who your government continues to traumatise, by denying them the freedom and the resources to lead a dignified life. We remember those who remain in PNG and on Nauru, and locked up in hotels such as the Mantra in Preston, Victoria, many having waited for more than 7 years for a safe home where they can settle and begin to put down roots. We remember those refugees and asylum seekers living meagre lives in our community, from whom your government seems determined to removed the means of material survival in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Prime Minister, there is room in this country, and in our communities, for these people to settle and contribute. Is there room in your heart for compassion for people who have suffered so much before and since they arrived on Australia’s doorstep in search of safety and a peaceful home?

Yours faithfully,

17 October 2020

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 people are removed from Australia’s on- and off-shore detention centres, and appropriately re-settled, and these centres are closed. I am copying this letter to the Ministers and Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to my local member of parliament.

It appears that the focus of our letter-writing campaign needs to expand, as we read about the ‘war’ that you are currently waging on refugees and asylum seekers living in the community (The Saturday Paper, October 17-23). The removal of benefits, in the middle of a pandemic, from vulnerable people already struggling to survive, can only be seen as a gratuitous act of cruelty designed to force them to make impossible choices: between staying here without means of support, going ‘home’, or going to a third country. 

Prime Minister, if you had escaped from a country where you were persecuted for your beliefs or simply for who you are, would you choose to go back there? 

We request answers to the following questions:
1. Of the people who have received letters informing them that they were being shifted to ‘final departure bridging E visas’, how many have been found to be refugees or have claims for refugee status and have not exhausted avenues of appeal?
2. Where is the safe ’third country’, when you will not accept New Zealand’s offer of resettling 150 people per year? 

Yours faithfully,

10 October 2020

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 people are removed from Australia’s on- and off-shore detention centres, and appropriately re-settled, and these centres are closed. I am copying this letter to the Ministers and Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to my local member of parliament.

We were very saddened to read of the plight of “Mojtaba” (The Saturday Paper, October 10-16, 2020), a Hazara asylum seeker from Afghanistan. He is currently in Villawood detention centre, separated from his Australian wife and six-year-old son, and living with the threat of imminent deportation to Afghanistan. His deteriorating mental health contrasts with the joy he reportedly felt to be able to live all too briefly with his wife and child: “I lost everything, but I had Adam and Marsha. They gave me hope to celebrate life”.

As you know, this week many churches around Australia will read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus tells the parable of the king who puts on a wedding banquet. When the invited guests fail to show up, the king sends his servants to gather people from the highways and by-ways, and those people willingly come to celebrate. Prime Minister, how much more precious would be the offer of a safe home among family and community to someone like Mojtaba, than it is even to the majority of Australian citizens who take their right to stay here for granted? And how wonderful if would be if your government would learn from Jesus’ radical inclusivity to invite the poor and marginalised to be honoured guests at the table. 

With concerns about Australia’s low population growth due to the pandemic (https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/inga-ting-explains-why-the-lack-of-immigration-and/12737414) there is room at our table for Mojtaba, and for all others like him currently in detention who ask of us only a safe home and a chance to get on with their lives. 

Yours faithfully,