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Diocese criticises Minister's refugee quota decision

Broome Diocese has expressed regret at the Immigration Minister's decision to cut 'offshore' refugee numbers in response to increased numbers of 'onshore' applications.

Coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Justice, Ecology & Peace, Br Shane Wood, said: "We agree with those who see the unfair linking of the onshore and offshore programs as a potential tension point in a number of ethnic communities. It can be seen as creating a competitive atmosphere in these communities that is not helpful. It ought not be a situation of 'either/or' but one of 'both/and'."

Port Hedland and Curtin detention centres are located in the Broome Diocese.

Br Wood argued that the merits of a person's case in applying for refugee status ought be considered primarily, not his or her mode of arrival.

He said: "The Minister's own figures that 90% of those who have arrived by boat and have had their cases finalised have been granted refugee status gives the lie to the suggestion that the majority of these people are only after a better life."

Br Wood suggested that Australians look to the Labor Party and the minor Parties in the run-up to this year's election to take a closer look at Australia's poor performance in this whole area.

"We would welcome a more humane alternative to the system currently being pursued in a mean-spirited fashion by Mr Ruddock," he said. "We hope the other political leaders of our nation have the courage to take a lead on this issue. Our international obligations are currently being given scant recognition."

Broome JEP