21 October 2020
Dear <<First Name>>
This is your chance to direct Labor's policies
You have until the 30 November 2020 to submit the policy changes you'd like to see Labor adopt in its new Platform. You can do this as an individual ALP Member or if your branch is holding face-to-face meetings, branch members at those meetings can also make a collective submission.
The Australian Labor Party's National Policy Forum has released the Consultation Draft of the ALP's Platform, click here to read it.
The Consultation Draft of Labor's Platform released by the National Policy Forum (NPF) can be accessed via the following link:
Click here to make a submission -
The section on refugees appears in the section STATEMENTS IN DETAIL from pages 87 to 96.
Labor for Refugees NSW is currently working on our submission and when it is finalised, our proposed amendments will be sent to you in a special newsletter.
We ask that you please wait until we send you a copy of our submission so that you can consider endorsing it, either as your own individual submission or if you have the opportunity to take our proposed amendments to a branch meeting, you could ask for support from your branch and your Branch Secretary will submit it on behalf of your Branch. Either way, we would love to see the National Policy Forum bombarded with motions of support for our L4R reforms.
Next L4R Meeting - Wednesday 28 October @ 6pm
Our October meeting will take place by Zoom on Wednesday 28 October 2020 at 6pm.
Please put this date in your diary.
Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention - Update
The good news is that on the 2 October, Senator Lambie announced that she will block the mobile phones ban bill. This means the Morrison Government does not have enough votes to pass the bill through the Senate.
The bill had passed the House of Representatives, with the Senate vote expected in early October.
More than 175,000 people signed a petition opposing the bill. Australians sent a loud and clear message to reject this dangerous bill and politicians listened.
Senator Keneally had written to the Government on 30 August 2020 outlining Labor's concerns with the legislation.
While Labor, Greens and cross-bench politicians rejected the bill, the casting vote was down to Senator Lambie. With Lambie voting to reject the bill, it no longer has enough votes to pass and people in detention will continue to have access to the outside world via their phones.
How the 2020-21 Federal Budget is another blow for refugees
The Federal Government's Budget lowers the number of places in Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program by 5,000 a year and halves its financial assistance program to people seeking asylum while increasing funding to its punitive offshore processing regime.
“The Morrison Government has joined the Trump administration in the United States in cutting refugee resettlement at a time when millions of refugees in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America live in dire circumstances made much worse by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) CEO Paul Power said.
In addition to cutting places, the Federal Government has cut financial assistance for people seeking asylum by 86% from 2017-18 to 2020-21, despite a substantial increase in the numbers of people in need.
While places and support are cut for those seeking asylum, the Federal Government allocated $1.19 billion to offshore processing. Mr Power commented, "RCOA’s analysis of Budget papers over recent years shows that 2019-20 was the fourth consecutive year in which spending on offshore processing greatly exceeded the amount allocated in the budget. For 2020-21, the Department of Home Affairs has allocated $1.19 billion for offshore processing. It is shocking that the Government gives priority to funding measures which prolong the suffering of people seeking protection while simultaneously cutting programs which offer desperate people the possibility of a safe passage out of appalling circumstances.”
Event - "Disembarking to danger: How Australia’s airport asylum policies risk returning refugees to harm"
If you've had a chance to read the minutes of our last meeting (link appears earlier in this newsletter), you'll see that L4R plans to include this issue in our submission to the National Policy Forum.
The Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, is holding a free online panel discussion on Wednesday 4 November, 1pm-2pm with Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Kristina Keneally, the Kaldor Centre’s Regina Jefferies, co-author of the Centre's policy brief on this process, and ‘Sultan’, who experienced it first-hand when he and his partner fled Saudi Arabia’s punishments for their gay relationship.
Leading the discussion will be Human Rights Watch researcher Sophie McNeill, the author of We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know and a former investigative journalist at ABC’s Four Corners who has covered the consequences of this policy.
Asylum seekers are currently being turned away at Australian airports and sent back to countries where they may be at risk of serious harm, after being interviewed behind closed doors and without access to lawyers.
How did this happen? How does it work? Is it legal? And does COVID-19 offer Australia the opportunity to fashion a fairer, better airport asylum process for those who can safely fly?