Catholics lobby says detention alternatives "won't come soon enough"

The Australian Political Ministry Network (PolMin) has welcomed moves by Federal Liberal MP Petro Georgiou to introduce two private members bills to release long term detainees and women and children from immigration detention and grant permanent protection to refugees.

"This week we've seen the release of one child from detention and the birth of another into the system. Psychiatrists and health professionals everywhere have expressed grave concerns about their physical and mental health. The parliamentary debate on alternative detention legislation won't come soon enough", said PolMin Coordinator, Regina Lane.

"Mr Georgiou's proposal is not only more compassionate and humane, it makes plain good sense. With the recent publicised bungling in the system and concessions by the Immigration Minister that a 'culture change' is needed, an alternative that works on getting people out of detention as quickly as possible is a welcome move".

"What's more is that the Georgiou proposal does not compromise our border protection policy. Claims made by some government MPs that such an alternative will 'open the floodgates' are simply unsubstantiated. Mandatory detention has never proven to halt the number of people seeking asylum in Australia, and now that the boats have all but stopped, the government has no reason not to reform the system", said Ms Lane.

PolMin believes that concerns about asylum seekers absconding are also unfounded.

"Research by Melbourne's Hotham Mission showed that when people are given a fair go in their claims for asylum, they are more readily able to accept a negative decision and prepare themselves to voluntarily repatriate".

PolMin calls on the Prime Minister to allow his party members a conscience vote. "If people are to have any faith in our democracy, our Prime Minister must act with his own conscience and allow his party members to fulfil their role as representative parliamentarians", said Ms Lane.

PolMin implores Labor to support the legislation. "Labor has been talking about change to the mandatory detention system for some time. Now they've got their chance to make a stand against the policy", said Ms Lane.

Alternative to detention won't come soon enough, says PolMin (Australian Political Ministry Network, PolMin 26/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
PolMin - Australian Political Ministry Network

27 May 2005