Letters to the Editor

We're falling short

Roger Dace (Letters, February 28) misunderstands what we "bleeding hearts" are asking in relation to Australia's refugee policy.

No one is suggesting that Australia should or could take in all the world's refugees.

In fact, not all refugees want to come to Australia. Most people who are forced to flee war and persecution choose to stay close to their home countries in the hope that they will be able to return.

All we are asking is that Australia accepts a share of refugees reflective of our population and affluence, that we act in accordance with our international obligations in responding to refugees and asylum seekers, and that they are treated in a humane and non-punitive way.

Currently, we are falling short in all areas. Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian Immigration Program has the expertise and proven processes for determining the size and composition of each year's intake of refugees.

There is no need to develop new processes.


Regarding impact on the national budget, the cost of operating our current system of indefinite mandatory detention plus that of Operation Sovereign Borders far outweighs that of any support provided to refugees.

Add to that the billions of dollars in payments to third countries in the (so far unsuccessful) attempt to find permanent resettlement for refugees that Australia won't accept, and one sees what an unsustainable burden the taxpayer is already bearing.

There are no special welfare benefits available to refugees.

They are entitled to apply for Centrelink benefits, and are assessed for eligibility on the same criteria as anyone else.

If refugees immediately had full work rights, the welfare cost would be even less.

The next rally is on Palm Sunday, March 20, at Garema Place at 1pm. See you there, Mr Dace? Let's talk.

Eileen O'Brien, Kambah

Roger Dace (Letters) suggests that if he could be convinced about the position of refugee protest marches then he would join them.

Current Coalition and ALP policy advocates that it is appropriate to harm innocent refugees to achieve pragmatic policy outcomes. But harming innocent babies, children and adults to achieve some dubious good presents a profound moral dilemma which cannot be explained away by calling those who are distressed and seeking change "bleeding hearts", as he does.

For instance, would listening to Waleed Aly's program Are Human Rights powerless to prevent modern wrongs? (ABC, The Minefield, February 11) or reading his article, "How long can we keep lying to ourselves" (Canberra Times, February 5) help to change Roger Dace's mind?

Dr Anne Cawsey, Hackett

Roger Dace asks how many of the estimated 19million refugees worldwide Australia might be able to welcome.

Allowing ourselves to be discouraged, distracted or scared by the totality of the number of people in need is unhelpful. As Australia offered protection to 20,019 refugees in 2012-2013, this could be used as a proposed baseline. We should allow the 267 people, currently in Australia (but facing imminent transportation to Nauru or Manus Island due to a recent High Court decision) to stay.

The government promised, in September 2015, to permanently resettle an additional 12,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria. A modest but achievable aim would be to welcome 32,286 refugees by September 2016. Assuming a continuing need, we could aim to permanently resettle 32, 286 refugees each year.

With a planned migration program that allowed 184,998 people to migrate in 2012-2013, this number of refugees is well within our capacity to absorb.

Offering compassionate and practical assistance now to those fleeing terrible situations is the appropriate and humane course.

Having provided some numbers in response to Roger's inquiry, I hope to see him at the next protest march (Sunday, March 20, Garema Place, 1pm).

Marg Cotton, Jerrabomberra

Bothering God

Messers McCarthy, Dudek and Dallwitz (Letters, February 28) appear to belong to that group of people who follow the old adage of "seeing is believing".

I doubt whether any of them have seen electrons racing through a light bulb when they turn on the light switch. Yet they believe in electrons because they can see and feel their effects.

Similarly, those God botherers (including Father Robert Willson) believe in God because they recognise his effects in the world e.g. nature, love, beauty, fear ... and so on.

There are many scientists (myself included) who are also God botherers but we don't know who we are bothering in particular. Perhaps the complainants are just afraid that we might be right after all.

Dr Baden Williams, Lyneham

Your correspondents Justin McCarthy, Bronis Dudek and Mike Dallwitz have administered a sharp rap over the knuckles to Father Robert Willson.

Dudek, indeed, would seem to want Willson to forgo his right to freedom of expression. Willson's sin, I gather, was to suggest that a leading scientist believed in God.

At the risk of earning a similar chastisement, I suggest your correspondents consider the case of Francis Collins, the co-ordinator of the Human Genome Project. In his book The Language of God, Collins admits to theism and names some other leading scientists of like mind.

For myself, I admit to a soft spot for the Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin. He earned the unique distinction of having his work condemned both by the Vatican and some notable scientists.

Jack Monaghan, Lyneham

Collapse hero

Congratulations indeed to the young boy who "knew exactly what to do when mother collapsed".

But also a big congratulations and a big thank you to ACT Policing for the Kenny Koala program.

Margaret Tuckwell, Aranda

How outrageous

Some Labor volunteers working in Bernie Sanders' campaign in the US made front-page news in Australia under the headline "Labor operatives in Trump, Clinton sabotage campaign" (February 28).

Did they insinuate someone into their offices? Did they steal their diaries? Did they destroy their personal reputations?

Did they ruin their election prospects? Did they destroy their political careers? Were they sitting members of Parliament? Did they get rewarded with front bench Ministries?

No, they are supposed to have pulled up a few Trump signs and swapped Clinton pamphlets for Sanders ones.

How outrageous, the dirty tricksters!

Rory McElligott, Nicholls

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