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ACLRI statement says Kirsty Ruddock speaks for many Australians

The Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI) has issued a statement in support of Kirsty Ruddock, the daughter of Federal Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock who spoke out on national television last night against her father's defence of the Government's policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

The ACLRI statement coincides with today's National Press Club release of its Working Paper on the Humanitarian Program for People Seeking Asylum in Australia - an alternative policy on Asylum Seekers, by ACLRI President Sr Bernadette Keating PBVM (pictured).

Kirsty Ruddock, a 30 year old lawyer, told ABC TV's Australian Story program last night that she has chosen to leave Australia and work for an aid agency rather than compromise her belief that punishment of asylum seekers is wrong.

"Many Australians agree with Kirsty," said the ACLRI Statement. "Since "Tampa" they've watched with sinking hearts the fate of refugees in Australia reduced to a new kind of Australian Rules political football where the homeside denies its humanity and the visitors - women, children and men - become the footballs."

The statement said the intention of today's Working Paper is to "depoliticise this most divisive issue in Australian life". The paper, prepared by Australia's religious congregations includes among its proposals:

The Creation of an independent Commissioner for Refugees, with investigation and decision making powers

The Restoration of the right to enter Australia to claim asylum

Retention of the 1951 Refugee Convention definition and recognition that the humanitarian program should also address the needs of genuine asylum seekers who do not fit the Convention definition of a refugee.

Short-term visas for asylum seekers no later than 60 days after arrival.

"Asylum Seekers - A Better Way, A Better Policy"
Catholic Working Paper on Refugee Program
Australian Story | quotes | transcript (available soon)
Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes


17 Sep 2002