Submissions - UnitingJustice Australia

UnitingJustice Australia has made a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee about the payment of cash or other inducements by the Commonwealth of Australia in exchange for the turn back of asylum seeker boats. 

UnitingJustice Australia made a submission to the Treasury conversation about better tax, responding to “Re:think”, the Tax Discussion Paper. The Uniting Church believes that taxation is a profoundly moral matter. It is the primary means for ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth and the raising of public money, our ‘common wealth’, in order that we may ensure that the basic needs of people in society are met. We recommend that equity be the first priority for our tax system, that taxes be increased rather than decreased, and that significant measures to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change will ensure the survival and flourishing of future generations.  

UnitingJustice Australia has contributed to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s public consultation into Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction target. We argue that the primary objective of the target must be to contribute effectively and appropriately to avoiding dangerous climate change, begin Australia’s transformation to a robust and successful low-carbon economy and allow Australia to act with credibility in the continuing international climate change negotiations. We recommend that Australia adopt a target of at least 40% of 2000 levels by 2025 and commit to making the transition to a very low carbon economy by 2050. Reaching such a target will involve policy measures such as reinstating a price on carbon, reducing reliance on coal-fired power plants, strengthening the renewable energy sector and increasing support to the mitigation efforts of developing country neighbours.

UnitingJustice Australia made a submission to the  Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015. We recommended that the bill not be passed as it gives even greater powers to detention centre security staff to use force with impunity in their interactions with asylum seekers. Lack of definition of "reasonable force" leaves open the possibility of a variety of definitions by different stakeholders. We argue that the greatest threats to the safety and security of asylum seekers in immigration detention are physical and sexual abuse, significant mental health conditions, and self-harm as a result of conditions in detention. The increased use of force by detention centre staff will not improve the situation, and may in fact make it worse. 

UnitingJustice has called on the Government to improve Australia’s Humanitarian Programme by recognising the rights of all asylum seekers regardless of how they arrived in Australia. Our submission makes a number of recommendations for next year’s programme including increasing the number of refugees that Australia accepts each year and working multilaterally (rather than bilaterally) to develop a genuine regional protection framework. We continue to support access to family reunion for all refugees in Australia.

The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and UnitingJustice Australia have made a submission to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Drawing on our own covenanting experience and the Church’s own constitutional change, we have highlighted the importance of truly consultative processes, and make recommendations for changes to the Australian Constitution that recognise First Peoples and their existing languages, and that remove racist provisions.

UnitingJustice has made a submission to the Human Rights Commissioner's Consultation into Rights and Responsibilities. This submission highglights the restrictions that current legislation places on the human rights and freedoms of vulnerable groups in Australia, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, refugees and asylum seekers and adherents of religions other than Christianity.

UnitingJustice has contributed to a Senate inquiry into draft legislation on the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The proposed changes seek to make all the activities of Operation Sovereign Borders law. They would allow the Government to ignore court decisions and international obligations. The Bill re-introduces temporary protection visas, denying permanent protection to those who are found to be refugees. Changes to the refugee claim assessment process risks Australia incorrectly returning people to situations of danger. The Bill also threatens the accountability and transparency upon which our democratic government should operate.

UnitingJustice supports the aim of the Bill to establish an independent Office of Guardian for asylum seeker children without parents or carers. This Bill would ensure that the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection is no longer the de facto guardian of unaccompanied asylum seeker children.

UnitingJustice has made a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ review of the Stronger Futures legislation. The submission outlines our concerns, including the inadequate and disrespectful consultation processes and how some aspects of the legislation take control away from people over the most basic aspects of their lives.

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