"Australia's legislative response to asylum seekers has once again been shown to be a charade," said the President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Dr Dean Drayton.
Rev. Elenie Poulos, the National Director of UnitingJustice, said, "The Federal Government has long been misleading the Australian public about its refugee policies.
"The Government has consistently maintained that its policies do not breach our human rights obligations – they do. It claims that people have been well cared for in our detention centres – they are not. It claims that Australia's refugee policy is admired and respected – it is not. And of course, the 'children thrown overboard' were not.
Rev. Poulos, who has recently returned from meetings of UNHCR in Geneva, went on to say: "Australia's reputation has not so much been damaged by the latest lies but rather reinforced.
"The international community are only too aware of Australia's willingness to breach its international obligations. What may shock them is how exactly how far this Government is prepared to go.
"It is extraordinary that the Government has been willing to risk its integrity over a small boatload of desperate people. And it is indeed a sad time in our country's history when we close our hearts and our borders to match," she said.