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Bishop says bills signify welcome change to detention policy


Changes to the Migration Act proposed in two Private Member's Bills represent a compassionate and welcome change to Australia's detention policy and deserve the support of all MPs, Bishop Joseph Grech said on Friday.

Bishop Grech, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees, congratulated the Member for Kooyong, Petro Georgiou for intending to place the Bills before parliament.

He welcomed the publicly stated support for the bills from other members of the government, including Judi Moylan and Bruce Baird and called for MPs from all sides of politics to vote in their favour.

"These bills reflect the groundswell of public support for a more compassionate immigration detention system," he said. "More and more Australians are becoming increasingly disturbed about people, including some children, being held for long periods of time in detention."

Bishop Grech said the proposal to release detainees into the community after 12 months, was particularly welcome, as was the appointment of a Judicial Assessor to examine individual cases.

"We are also delighted to see a proposal to release children, their parents and siblings from detention pending determination of their applications for asylum," he said. "The Catholic Church has long argued for a system which detains people only for as long as it takes to complete appropriate health and identity checks, a principle which is reflected in these bills."

Bishop Grech said the proposed changes provided the appropriate checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the immigration system while at the same time respecting the human dignity of those whose claims are being assessed.

"Australians are calling out with increasing urgency for a more compassionate detention system and these bills, if supported in the parliament, will go a long way towards achieving such an outcome," he said.

SOURCE
Immigration bills signify a welcome change to detention policy - Catholic Bishop (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 27/5/05)

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30 May 2005