Interfaith Service Calls On Government to Let Family Stay

Pitt Street Uniting Church has co-hosted an interfaith service calling on the federal government to let a Tamil asylum seeker family stay.

The Service co-hosted with the NSW Ecumenical Council Peace and Justice Commission took place on Thursday, 10 October.

Participants representing a large variety of faith traditions met to pray and reflect, and ask the Australian Government for a more compassionate approach for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

The Very Reverend Fr Dr Shenouda Mansour is the General Secretary of the NSW Council of Churches.

“We believe that Australians want people who are seeking asylum to be treated fairly,” he said.

“The Government can help Australians reach an understanding of the facts, and why it is fair and right to let them stay in Australia.’

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is currently refusing to use a provision that allows him discretion in such cases.

The Edmund Rice Centre’s Phil Glendenning said that this ministerial discretion covers cases where the law alone does not deliver a just outcome. 

 ‘We do not need to live in fear,” Mr Glendenning said.

“We acknowledge that if the Minister exercises his discretion in this case, there may be concerns that it would be a precedent for future similar cases.  However, the law provides that each case is considered on its merits, and so we do not think that a decision by Minister David Coleman will compromise interpretation of the law.  That is, each case is weighed on its merits, and as each case is different, one cannot predict the outcome.”

Mr Glendenning said that one of the asylum seekers, Tharunicaa, will be a stateless person if she is deported, “Another reason to intervene.”

The Tamil family are currently being held on Christmas Island, as a court injunction is preventing the government from deporting them.

The event organisers are also supporting an online petition calling on the government to let the family stay.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor




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