Letter to Mr Damian Drum, Federal Member for Murray

To Mr Drum,

I am writing to you this evening regarding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement today that any Asylum Seeker who arrived by boat after mid-2013 would be permanently banned from entering Australia (As reported by ABC News).
I am horrified by this announcement. There are so many things wrong with this it makes it difficult to start.

Firstly, this is applying a permanent penalty to people who have committed no crime. It is not illegal to seek asylum in any country, nor does it matter by which method they arrive in order to claim asylum.
Secondly, this flies in the face of our nation being a signatory of the United Nations charter of Human Rights (Certainly article 13 would be in breach, and you could argue for Article 11 section 2), and calls into question our continued signature on the United Nations Refugee Convention, an important document that Australia was instrumental in drafting.
Thirdly, the linchpin of the Coalition border protection policy was “Stop the boats”. If, as we have heard from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, that Coalition policy has indeed stopped the boats, then why are harsher measures necessary?
This policy seems to be purely designed to implement ever increasingly harsh outcomes on a group of people where the majority have already been found to have legitimate claims of fleeing persecution and seeking protection.
As I am sure you will know, Shepparton – part of your electorate – is a town that has proudly been welcoming Refugees as part of its community. Their example has shown that welcoming people from any background can have tremendous effect to a town. The economic benefits of welcoming refugees into our country are hard to walk past – and the cost involved in settling them would be repaid many times over.
The cost to our government of keeping Manus Island and Nauru Regional processing centres open is astronomical, with no economic benefit to our country. If we were to process asylum seekers on our shores, the cost is significantly less, and would provide future economic benefits as those who are found to be Refugees seek to give back to the country who gave them protection.
I sincerely hope that when given the opportunity, you will vote against these measures, and speak up for the refugees already in our community, and for those who could benefit our community into the future.
Email sent 30 October, 2016. Should there be any response, I shall share it below.
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Author: Ben Clapton

I'm an Officer in The Salvation Army, currently appointed with my wife as Corps Officers at the Rochester Corps in country Victoria (20 minutes out of Echuca). I play violin and guitar, amongst many others, and love golf and running.

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