Now that the Rudd Government has announced its new asylum seeker policy,we must not forget those asylum seekers already in Australia.
Surely, once the normal security and health checks are done, they should allbe released into the community. They should be given access to botheducation and employment whilst their refugee status is assessed.
Let us treat those who are here decently, even whilst the new arrangementswith PNG are bedded down.
The Prime Minister should immediately abolish those aspects of the ‘no advantage’policies which have been so punitive and ineffective, demeaning us all.
As regards the announced PNG arrangement, it is good that better regionalco-operation is happening, especially if it impacts on the criminals behindpeople smuggling. Their dangerous, overcrowded boats have caused somuch suffering.
It is good too that the way might now be clearer for more of the refugeeslanguishing in UNHCR camps to have a better hope of resettlement inAustralia.
As regards PNG, the Anglican Church of Australia has a strong historic andcontemporary relationship with it.
It may be that, through our Church welfare and aid agencies, we can facilitatea better future for those asylum seekers who end up settling permanently onPNG, contributing to its commonwealth.
The task ahead is to take up these opportunities in ways that arecompassionate and honourable.