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June 30, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Bring them ALL Home

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We have a new government. We have done better for one refugee family in Australia. Let’s start doing a lot bloody better for all asylum seekers and refugees.

This weekend the country watched the Nadesalingam family return to Bilo. They saw Tharnica, a little girl born in this country who had spent four years in detention celebrate her fifth birthday. After four years this family of Tamil asylum seekers have gone home to the central Queensland town of Biloela. The love of a small town for this family tells a very clear story; that there is a place in this country for resettling refugees. 

This was a powerful moment. But this is just one family. While it’s great to have a change of government, let’s not forget that Labor supports Operation Sovereign Borders – a policy the United Nations has declared does not save lives, but contributes to the deaths of refugees. Pushing back migrant boats has been called ‘a cruel and deadly practice’ that violates international law. It risks sending people back to the countries they have fled from, where they will face death, torture or persecution. It’s an ugly policy. We cannot let our government’s bad policy hide behind the face of five-year-old Tharnica and her family. Because behind that one good story, is the suffering of so many others.

How we treat refugees who arrive in boats has become a sign of strength in our political landscape. From the lies of the Howard government’s ‘children overboard’, to election day this year when it was announced that a boatload of asylum seekers were intercepted by Australian Border Force – making the world’s most vulnerable people into a political football. A football we continue to kick back into danger. You see, government knows what happens when Australians live with refugees: They form relationships. They become a loved part of the community. Even conservative communities change their views on refugee policy. That is the power of human relationships. Better to keep the lives and suffering of refugees abstract. You don’t want compassion getting in the way of politics. 

The boat that arrived in Australian waters on election day was returned to Sri Lanka. The very same country ‘our Bilo family’ came from. Where, no doubt, those onboard will face persecution. You do not save people by turning back boats. You just send them back to die somewhere else. Seeking asylum in Australia is not illegal. It is a basic human right. All people are entitled to protection of their human rights including their right to seek asylum regardless of how or where they arrive.

It seems obvious that anyone who comes by boat is desperate. They’re desperate because they are refugees who were not able to seek asylum by applying via recognised channels and waiting four years or more for acceptance. By definition, a refugee is stateless, they are at risk of persecution or death. So to further traumatise, marginalise and make monsters of those who arrive by boat is shameful and illogical. No one would risk their life or the lives of family to travel in such a dangerous way unless they had no choice. 

I can’t bear to hear the spin that ‘it’s about saving lives’. If you wanted to save lives you’d develop a more humane system. You wouldn’t spend billions on offshore detention to send a message to vulnerable people that if you seek asylum via boat we offer torture as a consequence. There is a huge chasm between the spin on refugee policy and refugee experience. The Nadesalingam family has shown us that. 

We need to dig deeper. There are two books every Australian should read, No Friend but the Mountains by award-winning Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who was illegally detained on Manus Island. Six years of trauma and torture, paid for by the Australian tax payer. Us. The other is The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny. It’s the true story of Ali Al Jenabi, the first convicted people smuggler in Australia. The man who was called ‘The Oskar Schindler of Asia’. He saved lives. We vilified him. Then we imprisoned him. These books give you the view from the inside.

We have a new government. We have done better for one refugee family in Australia. Let’s start doing a lot bloody better for all asylum seekers and refugees. We have an ageing population. Refugees are the youngest group of immigrants to come to Australia. As it turns out, we need refugees more than they need us.

Let’s do better.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. The UN treaty says neighboring countries must temporarily harbor refugees until their country becomes stable again. We don’t border any of these countries.
    Sri Lanka is in economic turmoil, it’s up to them to sort that out together, and we are not a neighbour of theirs.
    Whereever the Nadesalingam family comes from, it’s not in our neighbourhood, and they violated both international law and federal law by violating our borders. Any suffering Tharnica has dealt with in prison is caused by the irresponsibility of her criminal parents.

    It is not your country to give away. The commonwealth was built up over 200 years for the benefit of the people who made it. If the west falls, no one will take our people in a refugees. The rest of the world isn’t that stupid. They have read history and know how that turns out.

  2. Howard’s ‘children overboard’ must not be set again on replay. Let
    those bullying days be over & done with. The world we live in now
    needs support & understanding far from the trash of guns & ‘I’m
    alright Jack.’

  3. Taking this further – How about an Atomic bomb’s just arrived in your neck of the woods, Christian.
    Think. The world’s by far smaller than you’ve imagined. That’s the sweet by & by that can’t be bought.
    We could name it Devil’s Island.

  4. These illegals have cost the taxpayer $18 Million in legal fees.
    Australia is seen as a soft touch.
    Watch labor lose control of our borders .

  5. Some things may contravene ‘Law’, but the law doesn’t & has never represented humanity Or Morality

  6. Mandy why dont you take some in open your
    Front door ?.. you and your Greens are ever so
    Compassionate , empathetic.. Mandy the
    Previous government’s position on the borders
    Is no different to the present government
    Granting this family permanency was a mistake
    The high court and several occasions deemed that this family had no legitimacy
    To be given permanent residency status..
    They were also not advised to have children
    Whilst in Australia.. they did so to use those kids ..
    Extortion comes to mind .. they were adviced
    By a highly paid legal team to wait until a labor
    Government was elected …BINGO !! and the rest is history.. yet i say go to the back of the line like
    Everyone else has had to to be able to reside
    In the best country in the world .. oh Mandy you forgot to mention this families legal action against
    Taxpayer’s has cost about 7 million dollars..
    Yep that’s right 7 million.. i wonder Mandy if
    Australian’s in the same position in Sri Lanka
    Would the Taxpayer’s be happy to entertain
    Legal action and costs to the same amount to
    Stay in that country ? Zero chance ..
    If i was in the same position as this family
    To use and abuse a system would i 💯..
    How goood is Aus Joachim..

    • Barrow old son, way too much to unpack your latest rant but on your question, “How good is Aus Joachim” – on the treatment of people seeking asylum or refugee asylum seekers who arrive by sea ( which is NOT illegal under the UN Conventions that Aus has signed up to ), Aus is an absolute shithouse that has seen 14 people held in offshore detention die on OUR watch. How good is Aus Barrow!

      The great fail has been this Fortress Australia mentality, all the way back to Howard’s Tampa Affair and Howard’s ( NEVER happened ) Children Overboard Affair.

      Desperate people in desperate times take desperate measures and no amount of walls, fortressing will stop people fleeing danger.

      If only Lab and Lib/Nat had the wherewithall to stop demonising innocent people fleeing for their safety and using them as political fodder and instead get together with our Asian neighbours and implement a regional procedure for addressing asylum seekers and refugees travelling by sea .
      Then we might just say, How good is Aus.

      • Most of those that sadly passed were by natural causes Joachim.. yes we are only one of 26 nations that actually accepts refugees..
        and this family certainly were not refugees.
        Aus is a absolute shithouse Joachim ?
        Served you pretty well has it not ?
        Those appalling detention centres are the best in the world Joachim by far .. are our
        Homeless looked after that well ?

      • “no amount of walls, fortressing will stop people”. Yeah, that’s why we shouldn’t be sending anti-ship missiles to the Ukraine when they are so desperately needed here. They will stop risking their lives on leaky boats after we blow up a few before they hit land. That’s how you save lives.

        They aren’t innocent, they are criminals. They are coming here to steal. If you disagree then you won’t mind if a bunch of homeless people break into your house, start eating your food, and make themselves at home,cause they are just ‘refugee asylum seekers’, and if you have a problem with that you are ‘demonising innocent people fleeing for their safety’ into your house.

    • I use to build sounding rockets. Get the permits and funding and I could probably just about manage a Moon shot with some development time.

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