Former Australians of the year have penned an open letter to Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten urging them to address the “human disaster” unfolding on Manus Island’s decommissioned detention centre.
The letter’s signatories include Australians of the Year Rosie Batty, Ita Buttrose, Simone McKeon, Patrick McGorry, Mick Dodson, Tim Flannery, Fiona Wood, Fiona Stanley, Gustav Nossal, Peter Doherty, John Yu and Robert de Castella.
In the letter, the celebrated group calls for the government to send aid to the detention centre which has been without running water and electricity for more than a week.
Hundreds of asylum seekers, detained on their way to Australia, remain inside citing concerns for their safety outside the camp.
“In the coming days, it is inevitable that people will become sick and even die through the lack of basic sanitation, food, water and medical care,” the letter says.
“Please allow the Australian Medical Association to provide medical and preventive care, as they have recently offered, as soon as possible. At the same time please find safe haven for the acknowledged genuine refugees without any further delay.”
The letter warns Australia’s reputation on human rights is deteriorating under the “failure” of both Malcolm Turnbull’s government and Bill Shorten’s opposition to meet the obligations of the UN Refugee Convention.
“We believe it is time to stop the unacceptable and internationally criticised treatment of the refugees on Manus Island, who, though innocent of any crime, have been incarcerated and now abandoned there,” the letter says.