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Churches grateful for withdrawl of refugee bill

News that the Prime Minister has withdrawn the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 has been received with relief by the National Council of Churches in Australia. There is caution, however, that the Bill was not withdrawn on grounds of its injustice, but because it was unable to pass through Federal Parliament by the narrowest of margins.

Nevertheless the General Secretary of the Council, the Revd John Henderson, has written to the Prime Minister thanking him for his decision, and to 15 other federal members of Parliament from various political parties, thanking them for the roles they played in the withdrawal of the Bill.

“70 church leaders signed a statement that was due to be released the same day Mr Howard announced his decision. The statement was an appeal to Senators to defeat the Bill,” said Mr Henderson. “This shows the deep concern of a large number of Christian leaders that this move threatened to further undermine Australia’s compassion for those in genuine need. It would have effectively created an ‘out of sight out of mind’ situation toward people fleeing genuine persecution and at risk of their lives.”

“We are grateful that this piece of legislation will not be enacted, and we have continued to press the Prime Minister to rethink the entire ‘Pacific Solution’. This appeal springs from the insights the Christian gospel provides into our relationship with others, the needs of asylum seekers, and Australia’s international obligations. 

A copy of the church leaders statement released on August 19 is available HERE.