DIAC SECRETARY MUST SPEAK UP ON ‘SOCIAL UNREST’ CLAIMS

8 September 2011 
  
DIAC SECRETARY MUST SPEAK UP ON 'SOCIAL UNREST' CLAIMS  
 
The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, must 
respond immediately to media reports that he has linked asylum seeker boat arrivals with 
future social unrest in private discussions with the Federal Opposition. 
If the media reports are accurate, the claims which Mr Metcalfe made are inflammatory 
and unjustifiable. If the media reports are wrong, Mr Metcalfe must explain what he did 
and did not say. A failure to correct or retract the statements will do even more damage 
to the cause of people seeking Australia's protection from persecution. 

We utterly reject any suggestion that Australia faces the prospect of riots or unrest similar 
to that seen in parts of Europe as a result of asylum seekers entering Australia. Our 
nation has been receiving asylum seekers and refugees for decades - more than 
770,000 since Federation. There is no evidence to link refugees received by Australia 
with social unrest. As Mr Metcalfe well knows from the work conducted by his own 
Department, Australia has one of the most successful approaches to the settlement of 
refugees and migrants in the world. With continued government and community 
commitment to settlement support for new arrivals, this will remain the case for many 
decades to come. 

If the media reports remain uncorrected, many people will assume that Mr Metcalfe 
intended to make those remarks and stands by them. The impact of this for asylum 
seekers and refugees will be devastating, given Mr Metcalfe's critical role in Australian 
immigration policy. It will also further undermine Australia's commitment to maintaining 
access to asylum, as well as raise further questions about the nation's commitment to its 
obligations under the Refugee Convention. 

While last week's High Court ruling has frustrated the plans Mr Metcalfe and his 
Department had to deport asylum seekers to Malaysia, it would be unacceptable for a 
senior public service official to attempt to raise false fears to advance a policy goal.  If Mr 
Metcalfe's position has been misrepresented by the media, he must say so - loudly and 
clearly. 

This statement has been endorsed by:   
Refugee Council of Australia 
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 
Australian Council for International Development
Coalition for Asylum Seekers Refugees and Detainees
Edmund Rice Centre 
Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia 
International Detention Coalition 
Refugee Advice and Casework Service (Australia) 
UnitingJustice Australia 
Media inquiries: Andrew Williams 0488 035 535
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Posted on September 9, 2011, in For your information, Get involved! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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