Media release: Asylum seekers not 'collateral damage'

A statement from Bishop Philip Huggins, chair of the Anglican Refugee and Migrant Working Group.

February 11 2016Long-standing asylum seekers must not become collateral damage to more recent policies, according to the Anglican Refugee and Migrant Working Group.

Refugees who came by boat before Australia’s current policy of refusing settlement in this country to such arrivals was made clear should be allowed to settle here, says Melbourne Bishop Philip Huggins, chair of the working group.

“Let them stay is the message to our Prime Minister from our nation’s soul,” Bishop Huggins says.

“At the same time, we can keep making it abundantly clear that all future refugees must come to Australia via the UNHCR,” he says.

Anglican leaders have asked to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about refugee issues, including the recent High Court ruling allowing children to be returned to off-shore detention.

Bishop Huggins says the Australian Government has given a clear message to asylum seekers, including signs across South Asia, that the UN is the only avenue for settlement in Australia.

“Add to the signs, if need be. We need not empower the human traffickers and people-smugglers by fearful anticipation of how they might react.

“An intelligent nation can do both things at once. The Prime Minister must today exercise intelligent and moral leadership,” Bishop Huggins says.