Bishop Philip Huggins calls for asylum seeker amnesty in wake of confusion around US refugee deal
3 February 2017
Vicar-General of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Bishop Philip Huggins, has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to bring asylum seekers still languishing in offshore detention to Australia following days of controversy surrounding the US resettlement deal.
“This matter has been wounding the soul of our nation for long enough. The people on Nauru and Manus are, like ourselves, made in the divine image and likeness,” he said in a statement.
“The dignity of our nation requires nothing less than such an amnesty, as does the Prime Minister’s own dignity.”
Bishop Huggins’ call comes after days of speculation on the future of a deal struck between the US and Australia under which many of the refugees would be settled in the US.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that he would “study this dumb deal”, struck between the Turnbull Government and Obama Administration late last year only days after Mr Trump’s election.
Mr Turnbull has maintained that Mr Trump agreed to uphold the deal during their 25 minute phone conversation last weekend.
The deal would see the US assess and resettle up to 1250 of those currently held on Nauru and Manus Island who have been found to be genuine refugees.
Large numbers of those still in detention come from some of the seven nationalities that Mr Trump banned from entering the US for 90 days by executive order on January 30. The executive order also suspends the US refugee program for 120 days.
FULL STATEMENT FROM VICAR-GENERAL OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF MELBOURNE, BISHOP PHILIP HUGGINS
February 3, 2017
Enough! Declare an amnesty today
Given the likely failure of the refugee arrangement with the United States, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should announce an amnesty and bring the asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus to Australia.
The politics are what they are, and are beyond Mr Turnbull’s control. But the moral resolution is clear and simple: these people cannot be subjected to President Donald Trump’s extreme vetting, with the intended outcome obvious before it starts. They have been humiliated and traumatised for long enough.
The dignity of our nation requires nothing less than such an amnesty, as does the Prime Minister’s own dignity.
This matter has been wounding the soul of our nation for long enough. The people on Nauru and Manus are, like ourselves, made in the divine image and likeness. This is the basis for their and our dignity.
Not one Australian would want to be treated as they are being treated. Enough!
In the name of God, I beseech you, Prime Minister: declare an amnesty today.
Bishop Philip Huggins,
Vicar-General, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.