Opposition Leaves Christian Values Behind

27 May 2010

The use of asylum seekers for political point-scoring has now reached a new low. Leaders of the Uniting Church in Australia are horrified by the most recent remarks and policy announcement by the Opposition.

The President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae said, "While the shock jocks who enjoy whipping up a frenzy at the expense of vulnerable people may find Mr Morrison's language appealing, it is inappropriate to be developing public policy that takes 'aim' at people."

"The image of a stable, peaceful and democratic government armed with 'bows and arrows' aimed at defenceless people seeking freedom and protection is callous, violent and extremely irresponsible. It is a shocking demonstration of how deep the Opposition is prepared to sink in order to harness a few votes," said Rev. Macrae.

"Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison, who both proudly proclaim their Christian faith have lost sight of the core of that faith – 'love your neighbour' and 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. They have failed to demonstrate any commitment to one of the Judeo-Christian tradition's most enduring directives – 'welcome the stranger'.

"Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison have abandoned not only Christian values but basic human decency in a return to policies which punish already vulnerable people. The Rudd Government put an end to Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Bridging Visas without family reunion because it was the right thing to do. These old policies of the previous Howard Government caused harm and the Opposition knows it."

Rev. Macrae said, "Asylum seekers whose claims for refugee protection have been granted have a right to be with their families, away from the persecution they were fleeing."

"Refugees who have suffered torture and persecution, and those who have had family members disappear or been murdered or imprisoned may not be well enough to work or to work for the dole.

"We are talking about people who often need to be treated for such conditions as post-traumatic stress and severe trauma.

"Callous and punitive policies such as this are not the mark of a fair, decent and progressive country.

"There is nothing to fear from reaching out a helping hand to those in need. In fact, when Australia has acted with decency in the past, we have been repaid many times over. We have helped many people fleeing from persecution and conflict in the past – East Timorese, Kosovars, Vietnamese, Jews – and our society is now richer for their presence and their legacy. "We can only hope and pray that our politicians rediscover some basic human decency, and quickly, before more lives are unnecessarily destroyed," said Rev. Macrae.