Politicians ignore questions about detention of #refugees: @JulianBurnside reports

Julian Burnside
Barrister, human rights activist, supporter of the arts. Not a member of any political party.
Julian Burnside
- 9 hours ago
Julian Burnside

Note: This piece previously published on Julian Burnside’s website: http://www.julianburnside.com.au/politicians-ignore-questions-about-detention-of-refugees/

Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce gave a non-responsive answer, referred questions to Immigration Minister. Photo: Bidgee Wikimedia

It is a miserable thing to report, but our politicians who inflict unspeakable misery on refugees are apparently not willing to explain themselves.

An Australian citizen recently wrote to six Federal MPs asking a couple of very simple questions.  Each letter was less than a page long.  Five of the six MPs simply ignored her letters.  Apart for being bad manners, it shows utter contempt for the electorate.  The worst offenders – the ones who simply ignored the letters – are:

Josh Frydenberg – ignored every letter

Kevin Andrews – ignored every letter

Sarah Henderson – ignored every letter

Michael Sukkar – ignored every letter

Alan Tudge – ignored every letter

The only MP who responded to the letters was Barnaby Joyce.  He referred the letters to the Minister for Immigration.

Have a  look at the list below.  See how simple the questions are.

If Federal MPs are not willing to answer sensible, simple questions like these, they do not deserve to be in parliament at all.

MP Question response
Kevin Andrews Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? did not respond
Josh Frydenberg Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? did not respond
Sarah Henderson Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? did not respond
Alan Tudge Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? did not respond
Barnaby Joyce Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? referred question to Minister of Immigration
Barnaby Joyce Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent children? referred question to Minister of Immigration
Kevin Andrews Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? did not respond
Josh Frydenberg Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? did not respond
Sarah Henderson Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? did not respond
Alan Tudge Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? did not respond
Barnaby Joyce Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? referred question to Minister of Immigration
Barnaby Joyce Do you believe it is right to imprison innocent people? referred question to Minister of Immigration
Kevin Andrews Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? did not respond
Josh Frydenberg Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? did not respond
Sarah Henderson Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? did not respond
Michael Sukkar Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? did not respond
Alan Tudge Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? did not respond
Barnaby Joyce Do you believe people commit an offence by arriving in Australia without permission and seeking asylum? non-responsive answer, referred question to Minister of Immigration
Kevin Andrews How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? did not respond
Josh Frydenberg How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? did not respond
Sarah Henderson How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? did not respond
Michael Sukkar How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? did not respond
Alan Tudge How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? did not respond
Barnaby Joyce How much does it cost each year to pursue our policy of deterrence of boat people? non-responsive answer, referred question to Minister of Immigration

More letters to elected representatives, but…how disappointing they are

Note: This piece previously published on Julian Burnside’s website: http://www.julianburnside.com.au/more-letters-to-elected-representatives-but-how-disappointing-they-are/

A resident of Niddrie in Victoria had the stamina to write to 45 Senators and to Bill Shorten about some basic facts concerning boat people.

She asked just two simple questions:

1. In your personal opinion, are asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat treated humanely?
2. Do you consider that people who arrive in Australia informally and seek asylum should be called “illegal”?

For those in doubt on the second question, it is important to note that people who arrive in Australia informally and seek asylum commit no offence under Australian law.

The results of her efforts were disappointing, for two reasons.

First, because most simply did not reply.  You would hope that our elected representatives would have the courtesy to reply to a letter from a member of the public, espoecially on an issue which is so divisive.

Second, because most of those who did reply simply did not answer the questions.

Here are the ones who did not reply at all.  Note their names.  When they ask for your vote, ignore them:

Senator BACK
Senator BERNARDI
Senator BILYK
Senator BIRMINGHAM
Senator BRANDIS
Senator BROWN
Senator BULLOCK
Senator BUSHBY
Senator CAMERON
Senator CANAVAN
Senator CARR
Senator CASH
Senator COLBECK
Senator COLLINS
Senator CONROY
Senator DASTYARI
Senator EDWARDS
Senator FAWCETT
Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS
Senator FIFIELD
Senator GALLAGHER
Senator JOHNSTON
Senator LAMBIE
Senator LAZARUS
Senator LINES
Senator LUDWIG
Senator LUNDY
Senator MACDONALD
Senator MADIGAN
Senator MARSHALL
Senator MASON
Senator MCEWEN
Senator MCGRATH
Senator MUIR
Senator RONALDSON

The following senators replied, but did not answer the questions asked:

Senator CORMANN    did not answer questions
Senator DAY    did not answer questions
Senator FAULKNER    did not answer questions
Senator KETTER    did not answer questions, but says we must treat refugees in a “dignified, humane way”
Senator LEYONHJELM    did not answer questions
Senator MCKENZIE    did not answer the questions, but refers to people entering the country “illegally”
Senator MCLUCAS    did not answer the questions but says Labor is driven by “compassion, fairness and generosity”
Bill Shorten MP    did not answer questions, but says we must treat refugees in a “dignified, human way”.  Several paragraphs are identical to corresponding paragraphs in Sen Ketter’s letter

These three are in categories of their own:

Senator HEFFERNAN    said it is illegal to enter Australia without a visa (he supported this by reference to international instruments, not Australian law
Senator RYAN    said it is illegal to enter Australia without a visa (he supported this by reference to international instruments, not Australian law, says the government is “committed to treating (asylum seekers) in a fair, respectful and humane manner”

And finally, Senator ABETZ answered yes to each question!

The bottom line is that most of the Senators are too discourteous to respond, and the rest are too ignorant of the facts to answer truthfully.

And it is distressing to think that some senators are so blinkered that they can take shelter behind the tired old line that we treat asylum seekers in a “fair, respectful and humane manner”.


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Comments


  1. I’m trying to work out a scale which indicates my surprise.

    On a scale 1-5 where 1 is “Not at all surprised” and 5 is “OMFG did he/she/it say that”, I am somewhere between -6 and -4.

    You can see the problem.