AIMS – THE PROTEST CAMPAIGN
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HOW THE CAMPAIGN WORKS

We’re looking for people wanting to stand in every state of Australia. We need a minimum of two per state. Our intent is to stand at the election and give voters the option and possibility of telling our politicians that enough is enough and that the disgraceful cruelty to refugees offshore must end. We don’t need to win a massive proportion of the vote. Pauline Hanson has four senators with less than 4.5% of the vote. We are not after the Greens vote – they’ve been fighting the abuse of refugees for years. The fact is though they getting 6-8% of the vote and they have no foreseeable chance of ending this abuse on their own. It ends when enough Labor and Liberal voters consider that the future of this country needs to be grounded in certain values and that our politicians are copping out on them.

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This campaign is about getting as little as 5% of the electorate to turn from dutifully voting either Liberal or Labour in both Houses of Parliament – on both ballot papers – but does  not require people to actually change the party they vote for –simply to protest vote in the Senate. The party you want to form government still gets your vote. By making this small change we can end the ongoing nightmare for people on Manus and Nauru Islands. (see the section on protest voteing below). There are children on these prison islands who have been effectively imprisoned for up to 4 years. This is a national disgrace. 

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It is hard to believe that this can occur in a country whose fathers and grandfathers died in the Second World War fighting totalitarianism – that this great country has now been reduced to setting up offshore prison camps for men women and children.These prison camps have been criticised by the United Nations as having conditions so bad they are tantamount to torturing their occupants – where inmates are so degraded  and without hope that they set themselves alight. Where a six-year-old tries to hang herself with a fence tie, where young boys under 12 attempt to slash their wrists in desperation, where a man who tries to hang himself is “treated” by being bashed for collapsing the ceiling in his attempt.

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It is hard to believe that in order to cover up what is going on offshore our government has introduced legislation making it unlawful and carrying up to 2 years jail for the teachers the nurses and professional staff in these prison camps to talk of what they see. We aren’t supposed to know. The secrecy provisions of the Border Force Act 2015 are found in section 42 which says:

A person commits an offence if:

(a) the person is, or has been, an entrusted person: and

(b) the person makes a record of, or discloses, information; and

(c) the information is protected information.

Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.

The definitions of “entrusted person” and “protected information” means that teachers, social workers, and medical staff are gagged and threatened with jail if they speak out about what they see in these prison camps.

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It is hard to believe that this occurs in a country that was Oncea world leader in the treatment of refugees – back in the time of the former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. We have now sunk so low that Peter Dutton, a minister in a Liberal government, has recently criticised Malcolm Fraser for his policies in allowing refugees from the Lebanese community to come into the country back in the 1970s on the ground that a tiny number of them – 30 years later – may have had children going overseas to fight and hence commit terrorist -related offences. Apart from our deep concern that a member of our government might damn a whole community without  trial or conviction – let us not forget that core principle of our justice system, of over 600 years standing – that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty –let alone a whole community,  it is sad that a prime minister with arguably the greatest record for human rights in the last 50 years is criticised by one of his own party – one whose record in the same area is so thoroughly tawdry, after he is dead and buried and unable to reply.

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This disgrace happening offshore not the fault of the average person. The average Aussie, if they actually knew what was going on in these offshore prison camps would be so horrified it would shut down overnight – But the government has deliberately suppressed information, manipulated and deceived. The Labour opposition isn’t going to tell us either because they are equally guilty and have also tried to benefit from the same cruelty. The hyena cannot tell off the lion for feeding on the carcass. The average Aussie has been let down badly. This is the fault of the politicians who have lied to us, misinformed us and deceived the community meanwhile spending a fortune of our money – money needed for health, welfare and education on their rule cruel little game offshore. 

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They tell us that conditions there are just fine. Well if it really is so fine, what are people doing there setting themselves on fire in protest? Not one but 5 refugees have set themselves alight since the 2013 election. That’s not counting the attempted self immolations, the hangings, the wrist slashings, the rapes, the beatings, the child sex abuse and the medical neglect- with medical care so poor that one man has died from an infected cut to his toe. My beautiful country what are our politicians doing in our name? Our country has moved sharply to the right. The political debate has been hijacked by both the redneck fringe and the politics of fear, division and racism.

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Inside that movement to the right, from the 1990s onward our politicians have discovered the vote grabbing potential of a refugee bashing. They have become addicted to cruelty in exchange for votes and at massive cost – to our reputation, abandoning principles long held dear, principles that separated us from the amoral practices of countries our fathers and grandfathers died to protect us from. This cruelty is done at massive cost – $1 billion a year, money that could be better spent at home where onshore processing would cost a fraction of what is spent pumping money – over $1 billion per year into Papua and New Guinea and the island of Nauru. Cruelty is hugely expensive. We are all of us at every level, morally, socially and economically the losers in this nasty political farce.

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If what was done to these people were actually necessary for the protection of this nation it would be a different thing entirely but the refugee problem here in Australia is a tiny fraction of that being faced in Europe. We are dealing with tiny numbers of refugees. It is akin to a room full of people leaping onto a table out of fear at the mere sight of a mouse seeking refuge under a protective item of furniture. And still our politicians continue to mislead us and ramp up the fear. This mistreatment – of people coming to us for protection is so shameful it has become the “stolen generation” of our time. It is something that shames us, our children and our nation. Our politicians have disgraced us –  not for our protection or safety –  but for electoral gain. To suggest otherwise is a lie and a sham.

 What civilised nation needs, as the price of its “protection”, the indefinite jailing of children?

“I was at a recent public meeting just before the July federal election in which a group of experienced refugee campaigners stated, openly, in the public forum and unchallenged, that they considered there was nothing that could be done in the foreseeable future to lessen the suffering and plight of refugees in offshore detention. I was shocked by that. It was if they have given up. No possibility. Well, I respectfully disagree that there is nothing that can be done. The reason they see no hope is because they think that the average Australian doesn’t care and won’t protest this issue. I say the problem is less that they won’t but more that so far there has been no option given to those who are dyed in the wool Labor or Liberal voters to actually do anything about it short of voting against their own parties – and they can’t bring themselves to vote Green. Many people from both major parties are disgusted by what’s going on. These same people would do something if they had a viable option. Well, we are that option. We are that possibility.”

Adam Richards

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We are not asking people to change from voting Labor or Liberal. We are asking simply that they have the courage and foresight to protest vote in the Senate. That is our campaign and we believe this campaign can change what is possible for those poor souls offshore. We are standing that this change is possible and possible now. It is not enough to simply wait until the Green vote somehow grows big enough that they can form government and stop it – nor that we wait for our current politicians to find the hearts. Are we a nation that aspires to operate prison camps for women and children offshore? The answer is clearly no. We are not a nation of brutes. We are a warm-hearted people and people that believes in giving a fair go to our neighbours, friends and strangers alike. It’s the Aussie way. Do we oppose child abuse.? Of course we do. Do we accept that the abuse of men women and children in our care is acceptable? Of course we do not.

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We say that the abuse of people offshore can end and that our pride in the conduct of our nation and our reputation in the eyes of the international community can be and must be restored. How can we ask our children to be decent human beings and do what is right when we are unwilling to stand for that standard of ourselves? This is about choosing the sort of Australia we want our children to grow up in – one featuring cruelty to strangers, prison camps, suicides, self immolation, mandatory indefinite detention – children locked up for years – self harming – cruelty – these sound more like features of the Nazi nightmare in the mid 1900s and yet question – are these standards we choose to leave as a legacy for our children?

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What do we tell them when they ask us in years to come whether it is true that these things were done in offshore detention because surely what is coming out now will be eventually known all over the world and haunting us for years to come? It is not the fault of the average Aussie – they have been misled – We say our politicians have disgraced and hijacked our Australia and we want it back.

 

Will you join us?

It is on your answer that the future of the men women and children suffering offshore depends.

It is on your answer that this sort of Australia your children will grow up in depends.

It is your willingness to protest vote that will make all the difference.