Rudd’s Asylum Policy Morally Bankrupt, 5

Bishop Huggins, 2/8/13

The Rudd Government’s new policy on asylum seekers is morally bankrupt and unworthy of a civilized community, the Reverend Andrew Palmer, State Director of Global Interaction and spokesperson for the Association of Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT, said today. “Every person seeking asylum is created in God’s image and is loved unconditionally by God, and Christians have an obligation to demonstrate this same love toward asylum seekers through compassion, advocacy and hospitality. Instead of slamming the door and turning our backs on those in need, we should welcome and assist them to make a new life in the country of their choice,” Rev Palmer said.
“We join with other Christian Churches in condemning the Rudd Government’s announcement of a policy which expands offshore processing at enormous cost to Australian taxpayers, and removes any possibility of asylum seekers who come by boat from being resettled in Australia,” he said.
The new policy places innocent children in danger of serious physical and psychological harm in sub-standard, temporary and overcrowded detention facilities in Papua New Guinea.
Australia accepts less than 0.3 per cent of the world’s refugees, and around 90 per cent of asylum seekers who arrive here by boat are found to have valid claims for refugee status. In 2010, Australian Baptist leaders unanimously affirmed the human right to seek asylum and claim refugee status. The Baptist statement also urged the Australian Government to pursue policies that seek to expand protection of asylum seekers in the region, and cease the practice of sending unaccompanied minors to third countries.
“Baptists in NSW and the ACT stand by these commitments, and call on the Rudd Government to abandon its morally bankrupt and politically opportunist policy on asylum seekers,” Rev Palmer said.
“We expect our Government to honour its obligations under international law to guarantee asylum seekers access to protections, and to ensure that all decisions about children who seek to come to Australia by boat are made with the best interests of the children as the primary consideration,” he said.
Rev Palmer, whose Global Interaction role deals principally with engaging cultures around the globe, encouraged Baptists and Baptist churches to continue to stand with and care for those who are marginalized, oppressed and persecuted, in particular to oppose offshore detention of asylum seekers, and serve as advocates for asylum seekers and refugees.
He said Baptists could lead the way by extending hospitality to new arrivals, freely share resources with those in need, and develop ministries of welcoming, reconciliation and social integration that demonstrate the reality of the love and justice of God in situations of desperate human need.
Media contact: Andrew Palmer 0412 880 007
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