Bishop appalled at major parties stance on asylum issue, 6

21st Aug 2013

Bishop Brian Heenan expressed his concerns regarding the approach of the major political parties.
With the Federal Election just around the corner, Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton Brian Heenan yesterday expressed his concerns regarding the approach of the major political parties towards asylum seekers.
Bishop Heenan, said he was “appalled” at the policies of both Labor and the Opposition on this issue.
“We (Australia) pride ourselves on being the land of the fair go and being fair dinkum on helping people; but we have desperate people needing help and because they’ve come in the wrong way, they won’t get help and will be sent to poorer countries,” Bishop Heenan said.
“To me it’s the shedding of a clear responsibility, which falls on Australians shoulders.” The Morning Bulletin approached Bishop Heenan and leaders of other denominations in Rockhampton for their thoughts heading into the election.
This followed a report in yesterday’s edition where the LNP’s candidate for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, was criticised for attending a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on the weekend. One parishioner accused Ms Landry of attempting to garner votes by attending the service.
Bishop Heenan, who was the only religious leader prepared to comment, said he understood the asylum seeker issue was complex, but was sure anyone in a desperate situation would do the same and flee their country, giving their family a better chance. While not endorsing any particular party, Bishop Heenan said: “We need to look at the party that will bring together the common good for most people in this country.”
ACT Church Leaders call for justice and compassion for Asylum Seekers
Media Release, 4 September, 2013
As leaders of Christian Churches in the ACT we reject the current government policy on the processing of asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Furthermore we reject the asylum seeker policies of both the major political parties.
Current asylum seeker policies for boat arrivals and those proposed by both major parties are unjust, inhumane and a selective, questionable application of Australia’s commitment to the UN Refugee Convention.
As leaders of faith communities who profess to follow the way of Jesus of Nazareth, we call on all candidates in the forthcoming election to reject the current inhumane policies and to embrace policies that protect the human rights of each and every person who seeks asylum in Australia, regardless of the means they use to arrive in Australia.
We call on all political candidates in the forthcoming election to embrace compassionate asylum seeker policies, to fully support Australia’s obligations to the UN Refugee Convention, to permit the processing of asylum seekers on the Australian mainland however they arrive, to expedite as soon as practical the processing of asylum seeker’s claims, to ensure legal advice is available to all asylum seekers who require it, to ensure that no children spend time in detention and to offer successful claimants of asylum permanent residency in Australia.
We believe that to do the above will enable the Australian people to fulfil the central tenant of Christian morality to “Love your neighbour as you love yourself’.
Monsignor John Woods (Administrator. Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn) Bishop Pat Power (Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
Bishop Stuart Robinson (Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
Bishop Trevor Edwards (Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
Dr Kevin Bray (Executive Member, ACT Churches’ Council)
Rev Ivan Roberts (Chairperson, Uniting Church Presbytery of Canberra Region) Rev Christopher Turner (Canberra Baptist Church)
Rev Belinda Groves (Canberra Baptist Church)
Rev Dr Thorwald Lorenzen (Canberra Baptist Church)
Coordinated by Rev Christopher Turner (Executive Member, ACT Churches Council)