Religious leaders unite in support of bill

In a rare expression of political unity, religious leaders have thrown their weight behind the private member's bills aimed at releasing children and their families from detention.

The influential Sydney Anglican diocese was the latest to condemn immigration detention as flawed. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference issued a statement last week. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, and his bishops have called for more compassionate measures as well as greater transparency and accountability and an independent review process outside the department.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said the immigration system portrayed Australia as an uncaring society.

The private member's bill would not diminish the Government's ability to select who entered Australia but would protect the Government from allegations of abuse and satisfy most of the concerns of national and international human rights monitors, its president, Dr Ameer Ali, said.

The Uniting Church's president, Reverend Dr Dean Drayton, is leading a letter-writing campaign to lobby Coalition MPs for a "magnanimous gesture to people whose lives have been devastated by situations we are fortunate enough to barely comprehend".

"It is our firm conviction that the Government policies of temporary protection and indefinite and unreviewable mandatory detention are harmful to people's well-being, unnecessarily punitive and a breach of our international human rights obligations," Dr Drayton wrote.

A separate letter has gone to Labor MPs.

The Sisters of St Joseph issued a rare statement on Monday, saying many Australians were unwilling to "pay for 'the integrity of our borders' by inflicting suffering on children, the mentally ill and those who have a legal right as refugees to seek asylum".

Sr Joan Healy of the Congregational Leadership Team said policies that denied "human dignity" had consequences not only for the individuals concerned but for policy administrators and Australia as a whole.

Religious leaders unite in support of bill (Sydney Morning Herald 1/6/05)
Immigration bills signify a welcome change to detention policy - Catholic Bishop (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 27/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pell urges immigration policy review (ABC 16/5/05)

Josephites regret Australians' 'fear of difference' (CathNews 31/5/05)
Bishop says bills signify welcome change to detention policy (CathNews 30/5/05)

Petro Georgiou's bills receive little support from Coalition (ABC Radio AM 31/5/05)
Howard stands by detention policy (ABC TV Lateline 31/5/05)
Six Liberals back detention bill (ABC News 31/5/05)
Heretics rattle the high priests of Howard's broad church (The Age 1/6/05)

32 Jun 2005