Letter from concerned Australians to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the Manus Island disaster

9 November 2017

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister Private Bag 18888 Parliament Buildings Wellington 6160 New Zealand

Dear Prime Minister

Warm congratulations on your election as New Zealand’s new Prime Minister.

We are writing to call upon the New Zealand Government to intervene in the entirely preventable humanitarian disaster unfolding on Manus Island.

We applaud your Government for renewing New Zealand’s previous offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru. We are aware that on Sunday 5 November the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, refused your renewed offer at this stage. This is not acceptable. The men who have languished in Papua New Guinea for over four years need urgent access to a durable solution.

We urge you to actively pursue negotiations with the Papua New Guinean Government and the UNHCR Regional Representative to resettle as many of the men from Manus Island as soon as possible.

We acknowledge, with regret, the unfortunate necessity of writing to you to request that New Zealand step in to resolve this crisis when it is so clearly an Australian responsibility. We believe, however, that the moral leadership New Zealand can take on this issue will increase the pressure on the Australian Government to work with resettlement countries to resolve the current crisis. We will do all in our power to assist you.

In the spirit of international cooperation and humanity, thank you for considering this letter.

Yours sincerely

Peter Abrehart Chairman, Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial ChurchAssociate Professor Munjed Al Muderis Orthopaedic surgeoneverend Dr Sarah Bachelard Founder, Benedictus Contemplative ChurchRob Baker Former public servantGreg Barns BarristerDr Cynthia Banham Research Fellow, University of QueenslandPaul Barratt AO Former Secretary, Department of DefencePaul Bauert OAM FRACP Paediatrician Representative, AMA Federal CouncilDr Margaret Beavis Immediate Past President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)Professor Bill Bellew School of Public Health, The University of SydneyThe Venerable Rod Bower Archdeacon of the Central CoastDr Jacoba Brasch QC Barristerr Frank Brennan SJ AO CEO, Catholic Social Services AustraliaDr Alison Broinowski Writer and former Australian diplomatBishop George Browning Former Bishop Canberra and GoulburnJulian Burnside AO QC BarristerRobyn Cadwallader AuthorJoseph Camilleri OAM Emeritus Professor, La Trobe UniversityRita Camilleri Hon. Secretary, Pax Christi, VictoriaBenadict Coyne President, Australian Lawyers for Human RightsIan Dunlop Director Australia 21, Fellow, Centre for Policy DevelopmentDr Susan Ennis Researcher and ESL Teacher of RefugeesDavid C Fahl BarristerMichelle Fahy Human rights advocateJohn Falzon CEO, National Council, St Vincent de Paul SocietyAndrew Farran International lawyerDavid Farrow Former Manager, Australian Volunteers Program, PNG (ret’d)Michael Hamel-Green Emeritus Professor, Victoria University MelbourneRev Belinda Groves Minister, Canberra Baptist ChurchDale Hess Executive Secretary, The Arnold FoundationKhanh Hoang and Scott Cosgriff Co-chairs, Refugee Rights Subcommittee, Australian Lawyers for Human RightsDr Deborah Hunn School of Media Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin UniversityJosephina Jordan Presiding Clerk of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in AustraliaStephen Keim SC Barrister-at-LawHarry Kerr Convenor, Pax Christi, VictoriaBarry Kissane Emeritus Associate Professor, Murdoch University, WAJohn Langmore Professorial Fellow, University of MelbourneCarmen Lawrence Winthrop Professor, University of Western AustraliaMarion Le AM Registered Migration Agent; specialist in International Law and Refugee ResettlementDr Ibolya Losoncz Research Fellow, Australian National UniversityJulie Lyford OAM Chair, Groundswell GloucesterJake Lynch Associate Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of SydneyDr Chris McGrath BarristerJeff McMullen AM Journalist, Author, Film-makerJohn Menadue AO Former Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and CabinetDr John Minns Australian National UniversityRebecca Minty Human Rights lawyerDr David Morawetz Founder and Director, Social Justice FundProfessor Philomena Murray The University of MelbourneThe Honourable Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC Former Chief Justice, Family Court of Australia, Chair, Children’s Rights InternationalDr Jill Parris Counselling PsychologistProfessor Alison Phipps OBE UNESCO Chair Refugee Integration through Languages and the ArtsRt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and CultureProfessor John Polesel The University of MelbourneBeverley Polzin Peace & Social Justice Network, Religious Society of Friends (Victoria)Marc Purcell CEO, Australian Council For International DevelopmentKathy Ragless AM Director, Companion HouseStuart Rees Emeritus Professor, University of SydneyDeborah Rice Director, Australia21Franklin Rosenfeldt FRACS Adjunct Professor, Swinburne University of TechnologySue Salthouse Chair, Women With Disabilities ACTProfessor Ben Saul Challis Chair of International Law, University of SydneyAnand Shah Barrister-at-LawJon Stanhope AO Former Chief Minister, Australian Capital TerritoryDr Peter Stuart Bishop Administrator of the Diocese of NewcastleLorel Thomas Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Victoria Regional MeetingJohan Top Project ManagerKellie Tranter Lawyer and human rights activistDr Sue Wareham OAM President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)John Warhurst AO Emeritus Professor, Australian National UniversityDr Helen Watchirs OAM President and Human Rights Commissioner, ACT Human Rights CommissionMatthew Zagor Associate Professor, ANU College of LawProfessor Spencer Zifcak Allan Myers Chair of Law, Australian Catholic University

This letter has been reported in the NZ Herald


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5 Responses to Letter from concerned Australians to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the Manus Island disaster

  1. michael schell says:

    I am so ashamed at the on-going travesty of injustice and abrogation of our responsibilities of our international obligations that our political leaders have shown in dealing with people who come to us seeking asylum.
    Manus and Nauru are blots on our national conscience and stand in stark contrast to the values expressed in our National Anthem.
    How can we stand and sing “Advance Australia Fair” whenever our sporting teams meet their NZ counterparts? Rather, we should be heralding the “Fairness” of our neighbours across the Tasman instead for their courage and compassion in standing up for the rights of these people who have no voice. They did it before during the sad saga of the Tampa – they are doing it again in generously offering a solution to the dreadful situation that Australian governments have created on Manus.
    Thank you New Zealand for showing us what the true spirit of ANZAC means!

  2. Francesca Beddie says:

    Let us hope that citizens’ initiatives like this can outweigh any diplomatic pressure on New Zealand not to do the right thing. There was a time when Australia could hold its head high in international forums as a progressive nation that upheld human rights (albeit with not enough done at home on indigenous issues). Both the major parties have not only undermined that reputation, they appear also to be willing to be a bully in our bilateral relationships as well as to ignore our international obligations to refugees and asylum seekers and, worse, to treat human beings as no person should be treated.

  3. Kerry Willis says:

    And I believe there are many many more Australians like myself who cannot understand our government’s failure to take up New Zealand’s offer. I have no doubt if our government had the will suitable terms of agreement could be reached.

  4. When I look at the photos of the Manus Island refugees, what my mind immediately returns to is the stream of similar scenes of refugees from Adolf Hitlers death camps of WW2.

  5. Mike Cassidy says:

    Thank you for this initiative. It is high time the Australian Government’s abandonment of its responsibilities to asylum seekers was called out and the sovereign nations of New Zealand and Papua and New Guinea could address, in part, this disastrous humanitarian situation entirely of Australia’s making.

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