NEWS CENTRE

IPC concerned about asylum seeker discourse

The Plenary Council of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia, the peak body for the 17 Australian Mercy congregations and one autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, expressing concern at the direction the current discourse around the arrival of asylum seekers by boat, is taking.

Writing on behalf of the Institute Plenary Council (IPC), Sister Gabriella Gresz RSM, says: “Mr Rudd, your Government has brought in some very welcome and much needed changes e.g. abolishing Temporary Protection Visas, the ending of the ‘Pacific Solution’ and the elimination of charges for stays in detention centres. However, as the past weeks have shown these are not sufficient to change the discourse or indeed bring a more humane approach.

“With the arrival in larger numbers of asylum seekers by boat this issue has again become an area for political point scoring. It would seem that Labor is now pursuing the same unprincipled strategy for which it criticised the former Howard government.

“The issue needs to be taken out of this area of political point scoring. The facts and realities need to be presented to the Australian people in clear, unambiguous terms. Moreover, the use of emotive and inaccurate language (e.g. illegals, queue jumpers etc.) only fuels the misguided fear."

The letter concludes with a direct plea to the Prime Minister: “Mr Rudd we earnestly request that you use your moral authority and considerable political influence to give moral leadership on this issue and not let the current discourse degenerate into what it was in the Howard years.

"May we see more compassion driving Labor policy: a compassion for those who have to flee their countries because of well grounded fears of persecution and personal danger for themselves and in many cases their families."