Government should show compassion for asylum seekers

Published on Mon 30 November 2020 4:39pm

The government can accept the opportunity to resettle asylum seekers in New Zealand. It can choose to allow Priya and Nades and their children to come home to Biloela. I ask them to do that. It doesn’t need to be a Christmas miracle. At the end of a dark year, it could simply be an act of grace, a gesture of common sense and compassion.

Mr Wilson (4:39pm) – It’s 25 days to Christmas. It’s been a very difficult year. People around Australia will look forward to being with friends and family and sharing those rituals that connect us to one another––a meal, a hug, maybe even a song. Those 25 days will go quickly and we hope they go well.

But on Christmas Island the family of Priya and Nades and their two daughters have just marked 1,000 days since they were taken from their community in Queensland and consigned to a bizarre form of isolated incarceration. Meanwhile, on Manus Island and in various motels here in Australia there are asylum seekers who are entering the seventh year without liberty and without certainty about their future. Needless to say, they are unwell, because they have been subjected to circumstances that produce hopelessness, anxiety, self-harm and worse. They are men like Amin Afravi, with whom I spoke via the telephone the other day. They only want a future, they want an end to the punishing limbo which costs taxpayers something like $350,000 for each person a year.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The government can accept the opportunity to resettle asylum seekers in New Zealand. It can choose to allow Priya and Nades and their children to come home to Biloela. I ask them to do that. It doesn’t need to be a Christmas miracle. At the end of a dark year, it could simply be an act of grace, a gesture of common sense and compassion.

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