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Media release: If children are to be returned to Nauru, Government claims are false

Statement by Bishop Philip Huggins, Chair of the Anglican Church of Australia Refugee Taskforce

April 5 2016The Anglican Church calls on the Government to urgently clarify the status of “children released from detention”. 

On Sunday 3 April, Mr Dutton, the Minister for Immigration, announced to widespread community rejoicing that “today we have no children of boats in detention”. 

However, in today’s Age, reporter Michael Gordon notes “Mr Dutton told ABC radio that all of the children were ‘subject to going back to Nauru’ once they no longer needed medical support in Australia.” Now, we hear that the destination of the children is not Australia but Nauru! 

Please, Minister Dutton, clarify your intention! Are these children to be truly “released” into Australia or are they destined for Nauru? 

And if they are destined for Nauru, why were the Australian people misled? 

We ask for an end to confusion and cruelty, and the commencement of compassion. 

The Anglican Church wants to take you at the common understanding of your words: “no children of boats in detention”. 

Please, release the children who are in Australia, in Australia.

Our Government must face the fact that there is no third country likely to take people returned to Nauru and Manus. This is even more the case, given the Syria crisis. The Cambodian proposal has been an expensive failure. If these people are refugees they are our responsibility to resettle honourably. 

Urgent clarification and compassion, please: for the sake of the children.