Sunshine Coast university boss says he would be refugee
IF AUSTRALIA were under the same level of persecution faced by refugees seeking asylum here, University of the Sunshine Coast Chancellor John Dobson said he would be on his way to New Zealand even if it was in a 10-foot sailing boat.
The former Dean of the North Coast Parish of the Catholic Church spoke out as the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Dr Peter Catt, declared St John's Anglican Cathedral a sanctuary for asylum seekers facing a return to Nauru following a High Court ruling on Wednesday.
Ten Anglican churches and cathedrals have invoked an ancient tradition of providing sanctuary to people they feel are being persecuted.
Whatever its standing at law, the action and a series of rallies expected to be held across Australia ramp up the pressure on the Federal Government not to use the High Court ruling to transfer 267 people including 37 babies back to detention on Nauru.
"A camp with razor wire is a jail or concentration camp,'' he said. "You can't call it anything else.
"This is no way to stop refugees. Two wrongs don't make a right. If we treat people like that for years on end we will eventually pay a big price
"It is immoral for Australia to place asylum seekers on Nauru and to talk about a Cambodian solution.
"And PNG is no solution, it's almost worse. The government can do what the High Court says it can under the law or discern what is just and right."
Father Dobson accused politicians who supported the interminable detention of asylum seekers of hiding behind the facade of Christianity and pretending to be Christian people.
He said the offshore detention policy was not a Christian act.
And he argues regardless of all other issues, the practice was too costly dollar-wise for Australia to sustain.
Father Dobson said using the argument the policy was stopping people from drowning at sea was unacceptable.
"Why has processing (of claims) taken so long. People have been there for years,'' he said.
"(Immigration Minister) Peter Dutton makes the claim but hasn't proved they are economic refugees.
"You don't take that route unless it is your last card and have no other option but to risk your life."
Mr Dutton told the ABC yesterday any transfers back to Nauru would be on a case by case basis. He said: "We are not going to put children into harm's way."
Mr Dutton told the ABC the Government had to be compassionate.
But he also said the government had to be realistic in following the verdict to ensure any actions did not lead to more people drowning on their way to Australia.
Candidates vying to replace sitting members in Sunshine Coast seats at the next federal election will have a grilling by Buddies Refugee Support Group later this month.
Would you welcome Syrian refugees to the Coast?
This poll ended on 11 February 2016.
Yes. They are fleeing war and devastation.
No. Their culture will change the Coast.
Undecided. They need somewhere to go but does it have to be here?
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
And a full meeting of Sunshine Coast Council will receive an application on February 18 for the region to join 127 other local authorities as a declared Refugee Welcome Zone.
Father Jeremy Greaves who will host the Q&A-style Buddies event at St Mary's Anglican Church, Buderim, said the offer of sanctuary was a very ancient practice that was at the heart of all faiths.
He said after listening to Mr Dutton on the ABC's 7.30 program on Wednesday night in the face testimony from more doctors about conditions on Nauru, he was at a loss to understand the claim the government was acting in a humanitarian manner.
"Doctors with years of experience are so appalled, they are risking jail to tell what they have seen,'' he said.