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Motion: Refugee Week 2022

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Notes that Refugee Week will be celebrated across Australia from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June 2022 and provides a platform to celebrate the positive social and economic contributions made by refugees to Australian society and create a culture of welcome;

2. Notes this year's theme of 'healing' raises awareness of the experience of refugees and encourages mainstream and refugee communities to learn from each other to heal wounds and grow stronger as a connected society;

3. Congratulates the Australian Migrant Resource Centre for being the successful convener of SA Refugee Week since 2001 and for hosting the annual Youth Poster Awards Exhibition which features posters from primary, secondary and tertiary students that celebrate the courage, resilience and contributions of people of refugee backgrounds; and

4. Commends the Marshall Liberal government for standing in solidarity with the Afghan and Ukrainian communities in view of the humanitarian tragedies unfolding overseas, funding the Afghan Community Service Hub to support the South Australian Afghan community throughout the Afghanistan crisis and establishing the Eastern European Conflict Mental Health Support Line to address the urgent mental health needs of Ukrainian community members deeply affected by the invasion of Ukraine.

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:26): I rise briefly to support this motion, and note that the Greens intend to support it in a foreshadowed—not officially yet foreshadowed—amended form. That form will take the politics out of this. The areas of refugees and asylum seeking in this country really do need the politics taken out of them. We had a proud history in the post-Federation commonwealth government of refugees and asylum seekers being seen as not just a bipartisan but cross-party issue. While we have a sad legacy of things like the White Australia policy, we never used to politicise refugee intake and people seeking asylum, and I just want to put on record a few things.

It is not a crime to seek asylum. It is not an indictment to be a refugee. We could all be refugees, given political or climate or environmental or natural disasters. If we are in the wrong place at the wong time, any of us could become a refugee and need to seek asylum. We have othered refugees in recent decades but South Australia has always been quite bipartisan in our support of the refugee and asylum-seeking community.

Unfortunately, at a commonwealth level this has not been the case. I was repoliticised in my adult life by the events of the Tampa, and I full well remember the politicisation of the Tampa, the claims as well of children overboard found to be false, and I recoil with horror at the recent attempt by the former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, on election day to yet again use people who are seeking asylum, who seek to be refugees, as political playthings. I would hope that this would never happen in a South Australian parliamentary chamber. With that, I commend the motion in an amended form, I believe, as it will be eventually moved.

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