Commission Encourages Catholics to Challenge Election Candidates on African Refugees

Media Release

 Monday 15 October 2007

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has encouraged Catholics to challenge candidates from all parties to adopt supportive attitudes towards African refugees settling in Australia.

The Commission’s call follows recent statements from Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, in which he suggested that the Government was reducing its intake of refugees from Africa because of concerns about success in resettling them.

 The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission joins the Australian Catholic Bishops in expressing serious concerns about the Government’s decision and reasons.

 “In a recent statement, the Bishops argued that the Government should increase its intake of refugees and provide more resources to assist refugees to resettle,” Mr Arndt said.

“Australia has an obligation to be generous in taking in people who are fleeing war, violence, persecution and famine,” he said.

“They are often very traumatised people and need much more than a new place to live if they are going to be able to settle into a new life successfully,” he said.

“Wherever they come from, refugees are likely to need a lot of support and our country has an obligation to ensure that this is given so that they can live here successfully,” he said.

“This is not just a challenge to the Coalition Government because the Labor Party, while questioning Mr Andrews’ comments about the resettlement of Sudanese refugees, supports the reduction in the number of African refugees,” he said.

The Bishops’ Social Justice Sunday Statement urges Catholics to convince our politicians to be more inclusive in their thinking and to be more compassionate to refugees,” he said.

“Catholics in a number of parishes in our Archdiocese and elsewhere in Queensland are trying to live out the Gospel call to be good neighbours by helping Sudanese refugees to settle in Australia and they are very concerned about what has been said by Mr Andrews and some local MPs,” he said.

“The Federal election gives all Catholics an opportunity to respond to the Bishops’ call to encourage our politicians to be more inclusive in their thinking in relation to such issues as the treatment of refugees,” he said.

“It would be good if many Catholics told candidates in each electorate that they should support a more generous and compassionate policy,” he said.

“We should be urging them to support a greater refugee intake and increased resettlement services as the Bishops have recommended,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.


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