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Monday, 31 October 2016 09:28

Pax Christi condemns proposed legislation on lifetime visa ban

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pax christi squareFather Claude Mostowik, president of Pax Christi Australia, a branch of the International Christian Peace Movement Pax Christi International, has condemned as illegal and unprincipled, government plans to introduce legislation that would prevent people arriving by boat without a visa from ever entering Australia.

"To punish people who have committed no crime, who seek safety from conflict situations to which this country has contributed beggars belief," said Fr Mostowik. "All the more so as hundreds of children who have had no voice in coming to Australia are part of this collective punishment."

"Their arrival is fully in accord with the Refugee Convention and International Law. It is utter hypocrisy to bypass these international obligations then publicly announce that Australia is complying with them," he said.

For those asylum seekers who have already come, the nasty obsession to make their lives hell in detention centres is unacceptable to us and to all people of good will. It reveals a terrible failure of leadership. That this policy might have bipartisan support does not make it right. The ‘violence of silence’ on the part of Labor is utterly shocking.

The ‘clear message’ from the prime minister and his immigration minister is one of hard-heartedness, closed-mindedness and cruelty. Bullying the weak and the voiceless hardly constitutes leadership. If Prime Minister Turnbull is to show true leadership, the only way is through compassion and humanity.

Pax Christi Australia therefore calls on the government to work with regional countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process asylum seekers in transit centres, and processed refugees should be brought to Australia. The government should also work together with the churches in Australia, other agencies and other faith groups. They have repeatedly offered to assist in resettlement of asylum seekers in the community – as the recent statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference clearly shows.

The proposed legislation must be opposed as illegal, immoral and unAustralian.

Media Enquiries: Fr Pancras Jordan op (Mobile 0415 461 620) or Rev Harry Kerr (Mobile 0424 950 852)