• 13 FEB 19
    • 0
    Message from our CEO – Historic win in Australian Parliament

    Message from our CEO – Historic win in Australian Parliament

    We just made history together. You, me, and all of us across Australia.

    Today the Senate passed amendments to the Home Affairs Amendments Bill with the support of the key crossbenchers, because this bill is balanced, carefully considered and deals with what matters – medical treatment for sick people.

    Yesterday for the first time in nearly 80 years a sitting Government lost a vote in the House of Representatives.

    The bill: one that guarantees medical care for sick refugees on Manus and Nauru. This week we’ve seen the best and worst of democracy in action.

    At its worst we watched the Morrison Government fearmonger and spread vicious lies and propaganda to try and turn a nation against innocent and sick refugees on Manus and Nauru.

    But I also had the honour of being at the coalface with Jana Favero our Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, to see the best of us.

    We saw our political leaders listen to the changing will of the people, a community who wanted decency and fairness to win the day.

    We witnessed Dr Kerryn Phelps and her team as she held the crossbench together to ensure they stood as one, united in getting medical care for sick refugees.

    She didn’t waiver despite months of threats and abuse being aimed at her, she stood tall and never faltered.

    We watched Shayne Neumann as Shadow ALP Immigration Minister working tirelessly to find a fair compromise between the medical needs of refugees and national security he needed to also deliver on.

    Watching the whole crossbench as they grappled with how to win this fight, we saw real courage in action.

    MPs Cathy McGowan and Rebekah Sharkie withstood intense pressure every day, yet stayed strong, while the fearless Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt, who have advocated for many years for the humane treatment of refugees, both stood with Dr Phelps to table the original bill in the House of Representatives.

    Julia Banks MP conscience led her to stand strong and vote for this Bill, Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch, the Centre Alliance in the Senate, and everyone who held their nerve and commitment under incredible unwavering pressure.

    I feel so proud to have worked so tirelessly and at times up to 16 hours a day side by side with our refugee and human rights community.

    Walking the halls of Parliament trying to meet with any Federal MP on every side of politics to tell them heart wrenching stories of sick men women and children at risk of dying on Manus and Nauru if we didn’t act to get them medical care.

    We stood with dozens of doctors on the lawns of Parliament to show the full force and support of the medical community.

    We knew that the government would pull out all their dirty tricks like they did in December when we fought to get the bill through the Senate.

    So as a sector we had to anticipate and prepare for every possible scenario from the Gov trying to filibuster again in the senate to trying to sink the bill in the house of reps.

    We knew they were pressuring the crossbench to fold.

    It was an incredible experience to be there with Jana and the human rights community as we pushed for amendments that would strike a balance between delivering real outcomes for sick refugees while ensuring it did not feed the Morrison government’s scaremongering on Boats.

    Every hour the landscape kept shifting, the goal posts kept getting moved and we had to hold our nerve, stand by our values.

    We asked ourselves each day what would the men and women on Manus and Nauru want. What would be in their best interests? How do we get real outcomes for them finally, not more empty hollow promises.

    The pressure was extraordinary. We knew hundreds of lives depended on us getting right.

    But we held strong and stayed united as one and didn’t waiver. We had each other’s backs and knew in our hearts this was our chance to make history together.

    Holding the ground and changing the country from the inside was an incredible feeling and to experience the solidarity and unity of a powerful community working together.

    This win belongs to you, to us, to Behrouz and Aziz and Ellie and all of the men women and children who have survived offshore processing and now will get to see the doctors they need to heal.

    Thank you, to each and every one of you with all my heart for staying strong and never giving up.

    Kon Karapanagiotidis, ASRC

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