Saturday, October 15, 2016

Primate criticises Australian refugee policy

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, has criticised Australia’s migration policy during a “public conversation” in a local theatre.

Archbishop Freier said that the policy was an example of the world being “re-tribalised” as people question their identity. 

The Archbishop questioned Australia’s national political leadership for taking a much harsher approach to the issue than former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke. 

When people normalised such misleading language as “illegals” about asylum-seekers, it was not surprising that the next step was harsh punishment, he said.
 
The archbishop recognised the “important responsibility” governments had for border security, but said that “the most fundamental value was that of human life.”

Also taking part in the conversation was the CEO of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello. He said that the first pillar of the country’s refugee policy, stopping the boats, had been successful. He said that this meant that the second pillar – indefinite detention – could be detached with refugees in off-shore detention centres resettled in Australia without the risk of an increase in people-smuggling and deaths at sea.

He said that the “toxic debate” about migration had “damaged Australia’s soul”; and said that without it the Australian government would not have been able to cut the country’s overseas aid budget to its lowest-ever level.

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