Blog Archives

a speech on asylum seekers and #lovemakesaway

The following is a short speech I was invited to give at a rally for asylum seekers on June 21, 2014. I was asked to represent #LoveMakesAWay, whose recent acts of civil disobedience have received national attention in Australia.

The audience was made up of people from all different backgrounds—socialists and seniors, Christians and cops, mums and militants. The rally was held in Cronulla outside the office of Scott Morrison, the Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

I begin today by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Dharawal people. I pay my respects to their elders past and present. Almost all of us here today are strangers on this land—foreigners, migrants—and we must never forget this as we seek to respond to the issue of asylum seekers.

Three months ago today, eight friends and I entered the office of Scott Morrison to stage a sit-in prayer vigil. It was an act of civil disobedience, and five were arrested for trespassing. This action would unwittingly lead to the movement called Love Makes A Way. Since that first action here in Cronulla we have staged three additional sit-ins in the offices of Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, plus some additional public actions. These actions have included the arrests of high-ranking church leaders from a range of denominations.

Why would Christians, including church leaders, risk arrest? Read the rest of this entry

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through the waters: unchristians as exiles & strangers

I was a slave
…..toiling under the gaze of the empire.
And I was heard by a liberator
…..led
through the waters,
through the chaos.

I was a wanderer
…..toiling under the gaze of the nations.
And I was guided by smoke and fire
…..led
through the waters
through the homelessness.

I was a mother
…..toiling under the gaze of a king.
And I was guided by an angel
…..led
through the waters,
through the escape.

I was an exile
…..toiling under the gaze of the empire.
And I was found by a baptiser
…..led
through the waters
through the resurrection.

I am a stranger
…..toiling under the gaze of the economy.
And I was found by heaven
…..led
through the waters
through death itself.

I am unChristian

Dedicated to Anthony John Abbott.

MCA

on the bridge between reconciliation and refugee

Many of you would have been aware that 27 May-3 June was National Reconciliation Week in Australia.

Many would also be aware that coming up from 17-23 June is Refugee Week.

As we find ourselves positioned in the middle of these two weeks it seems as good a time as any for a point of reflection.

Within our collective consciousness, deep in the spirit of this nation, lies a fear of the refugee “threat”. This is no doubt energised by

Read the rest of this entry

neither refugee nor refuged: christ, empire & the unsolution

The so-called Malaysian Solution marks a terrible chapter in Australia’s immigration history.

While many people have tried to argue that Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax, I find this argument to be wilfully ignorant of the events of the last twelve months.

Where Gillard has lied, however, is on the issue of asylum seekers. She has previously claimed that the Howard Government’s so-called Pacific Solution was, “costly, unsustainable and wrong as a matter of principle.” Read the rest of this entry

asylum seeker stories from villawood

On Saturday some friends and I went to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre to visit some Tamil Sri Lankan asylum seekers and refugees currently housed there.

I am somewhat hesitant to post this story lest it look like I am attempting to portray myself as somehow heroic. Nothing could be further from the truth since a single visit does not make me particularly compassionate or generous.

I am not going to bang on about how bad the conditions were, since visitors are confined to the visitor area and thus I did not see the living quarters etc. In saying this I think that, against my assumptions, Serco was doing a reasonable job at running the facility given that they are simply out to make a profit. My belief is that the Australian Government, with its awful policies, both past and present, is to blame for our shocking treatment of asylum seekers. I have written about this elsewhere, so back to the story.

After spending over two hours with these young men I was struck by the similarities between them and myself. Read the rest of this entry

“bogan” racism? the raquel moore episode


SBS’s “Go Back To Where You Came From” has been that channel’s most successful project this year, reaching the worldwide top Twitter trending topics list two nights in a row (with the third episode airing tonight).

The idea is creative and brilliant – a documentary/social experiment/reality show all rolled into one. It harnesses the power of story over purely cognitive rhetoric, which has seemingly failed to change minds, and generally does not wield such transformative power (a reality that articles like this seem completely blind to).

On Twitter the confronting subject matter regarding refugees is not the only thing making waves; indeed one participant has become a Tweeting topic in her own right.

Raquel Moore has appeared across the Twitterverse, often coupled with labels like “bogan”, “ignorant” and other less repeatable companions.

True, Raquel did confess to being a racist in the first episode. Equally true is that after two episodes she does not seem to have shown any indication of changing her bigoted stance.

There is however still one episode to go.

For that reason it may be too early to comment. However something should be said about the name-calling that has gone on in the last two days. Read the rest of this entry

refu-jesus

It seems that in the last couple of days the Australian position on asylum seekers has moved backwards by about 10 years.

What has been most depressing to me (and there is much to be depressed about) is the attitude of those who claim to follow Jesus in regard to these, some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Read the rest of this entry

are human rights only for those born “here”?

The asylum seeker incidents currently occurring around the country have no doubt caused a great deal of angst for many Australians. This has been made clear to me in a number of personal exchanges over the last couple of days.

“They should be more grateful!” some have said, while others have stated, on an apparent whim, that we should deport many detained asylum seekers for their “criminal activity”. This is, sadly, the apparent position of the political spokespeople for immigration in both major political Parties (see Chris Bowen’s comments and Scott Morrison’s comments).

But there is a deep irony with this kind of position Read the rest of this entry

refu-geez…

On Saturday I went along to a protest looking to the end of mandatory detention for asylum seekers coming to Australia. While I am completely committed to the cause, I thought the protest was not well executed.

My friend Josh, who also came along, wrote about the issues with the protest over at his blog, Incoherent Ramblings (…of a Mad Man?) under the title “Idiots with Megaphones“.

I think he really nailed it with his article, and thus I won’t worry about doing something similar (do yourself a favour and read his post).

What I will leave you with though is the genius of Clarke and Dawe on the subject of immigration.

MCA

traumatic protection visas

“What [they] would be saying is that they have no place in Australia. They are only to be here temporarily … Can you imagine what temporary entry would mean for them? It would mean that people would never know whether they were able to remain here. There would be uncertainty, particularly in terms of the attention given to learning English, and in addressing the torture and trauma so they are healed from some of the tremendous physical and psychological wounds they have suffered. So, I regard [their] approach as being highly unconscionable in a way that most thinking people would clearly reject.”

A quote by Phillip Ruddock (then-Coalition Minister for Immigration) in 1998 referring to One Nation’s policies. Temporary Protection Visas were introduced by the Howard Coalition Government on October 20, 1999.

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