Church welcomes Minister's rethink on Timorese asylum cases

Bishop Joseph Grech has welcomed last week's decision by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to reconsider the cases of about 50 East Timorese asylum seekers who had been threatened with deportation.

Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Refugees and Migrants, Bishop Joseph Grech, of the Victorian regional Diocese of Sandhurst, said the Minister's last-minute decision to reconsider the cases came as a great relief in the face of their impending deportation.

"These people had previously been advised that their request for Ministerial intervention had been unsuccessful, so Minister Vanstone's decision to reconsider their cases is very welcome news indeed," Bishop Grech said.

"This decision will enable these East Timorese people to put additional information to the minister in support of their claim to be allowed to stay in Australia.

"Many of them have lived in Australia for a very long period of time and are a part of the community here."

Bishop Grech said he was also pleased to note that Minister Vanstone expected the applicants to be advised of the outcome of the reconsideration of their cases within the next two to three weeks.

Meanwhile, advocate for the East Timorese, Josephite Sr Susan Connelly of the Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies, sent an email to her supporters with the subject line "No Parties Yet".

She said: "Whilst the news is good about the 50 Timorese, we need to continue any efforts to bring the issue up, particularly humanitarian arguments, the difference in treatment to the other 1500, the length of time they have been here and the recent unsubstantiated slur on their characters. It's not over until......"

Sr Connelly said on Thursday that the Immigration Minister's revision of her previous decision to immediately deport 50 East Timorese asylum seekers who have been living in Australia for more than a decade should be viewed with cautious optimism. She stressed that the Departmental announcement allowed only for a reconsideration of the cases of those affected, and it does not mean that they can necessarily stay.

Catholic Church welcomes Minister's reconsideration of East Timor asylum cases (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 20/5/05)
Sr Susan Connelly: No parties yet (Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies 20/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees
Australian Migrant & Refugee Office
Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies
East Timorese Caseload Will be Reconsidered (Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 19/5/05)

Cautious welcome for Govt about-face on Timorese (CathNews 20/5/05)

Asylum seekers granted reprieve (The Age 20/5/05)

23 May 2005