Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why do we lock up asylum seekers?

There are two answers to this question, and neither of them are nice.

1. We lock them up in mandatory detention as a deterrent to others.

2. For political reasons.

Why should we NOT lock them up?

It is a breach of human rights.
They have done nothing wrong.
Prolonged incarceration causes psychological damage
It is inhumane.
It is very expensive.
It portrays a very negative view of Australia.

In Australia, there is bipartisan support for mandatory detention between the Labor party and the Liberal/National coalition.  But they spend a lot of time scoring "political points" off each other on issues like how many boats are coming and how tough their respective policies are.

This is immoral and wrong.  It just should not be happending in a society that calls itself civilised.

Australia has had waves of immigration, both "legal" and refugees, including Greeks, Turks, Hong Kong Chinese, Italians, Vietnamese (many in boats) to name a few.

Claims that asylum seekers are a "border security issues" and are "terrorists" have emanated from some Australian politicians.  This polarises public opinion and slanders hapless asylum seekers, who of course have no right of reply from behind the razor wire.

We should simply allow asylum seekers to live within our society, assess their claims, and send the cheats home.  It is time our politicians stopped grandstanding and breaching human rights and international conventions.  

We need leadership on this issue, not gutter sniping and political trench warfare.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All Victorians must have equal protection from discrimination under Victorian Equal Opportunity laws

Below is an open letter I have sent to Robert Clark, my local member of parliament, about the Baillieu governments alarming intention to provide permanent exemptions that will allow some religious organisations to discriminate against Victorians.

You can sign and online petition about this, and send an email to your local MP from the Equal Rights Victoria website.


Dear Robert

I am contacting you to express my strong objection to the Liberal government’s intention to strengthen the rights of religious organisations and individuals to discriminate against and abuse others who don’t agree with them.

I fully endorse people’s right to freedom of religious thought, worship and practice. However this does not mean that religious individuals and organisations should therefore have the right to impose their beliefs on others who don’t agree with them - particularly when this occurs in non-religious/mainstream or secular settings.

It is appropriate that people with religious beliefs be able to say who can or cannot join their congregation or attend one of their religious ceremonies or be appointed as a priest/ pastor etc. However when a religious organisation or individual is engaged in the provision of things such as education, health, welfare or commercial/retail services, they should have to comply with the anti-discrimination laws in the same way that everyone does.

To give religious people and organisations additional legal privileges and protections over other groups in society is totally against notions of fairness and social justice. It also goes against all efforts to create and maintain a society in which citizens welcome diversity and understand that although we all have human rights, we also have responsibilities to respect the equal rights of others. It is absurd that a government would excuse or pardon one groups’ discrimination against others just because it was done of the basis of their particular spiritual beliefs.

By strengthening the exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act, major harm will continue to be inflicted on the health and wellbeing of significant numbers of the population. For example, there would be some 500,000 individuals in Victoria that identify as same sex attracted and research clearly shows higher rates of depression, anxiety, self harm and suicide attempts amongst these citizens (especially young people). This is not the result of anything arising from their sexual orientation but the direct impact of isolation, discrimination and abuse they experience in the community. Religious belief is often used as the justification/explanation for such discrimination.

As my local member of parliament I urge you to take steps to stop the unequal and unfair endorsement of additional privileges and rights for religious individuals/organisations in this state’s human rights law.

Robert, I believe it is very important that all Victorians be treated equally and protected against discrimination.


Peter Campbell

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Fast Trains for Australia

Below is a letter I have sent to Victorian Senators Kim Carr (Labor), Stephen Conroy (Labor), Steve Fielding (Family First), Gavin Marshall (Labor) using this website: Fast Trains for Australia


It's time Australia invested in a high speed rail on the East Coast corridor (linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne).

The existing rail services between Australia's major cities are slow, infrequent, and can be more expensive than air travel!  They are also slower than bus services.

The aviation industry is responsible for 3.5% of anthropogenic cimate change (IPCC), while average passenger kilometres are increasing by 5% each year. We cannot afford for aviation to continue expanding. But we do want to travel between our cities!

Aside from the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, road congestion already costs Australia $10 billion a year. And Australia's population is expected to increase to 26.7 million by 2026 and 36 million by 2056.

Modelling indicates it would cost around $13 billion to build the corridor today, but if it's put off it the cost could balloon to $57 billion by 2030.

High-speed rail is being rolled out in countries across Europe, the US and Asia as a way to link up major cities, reduce congestion and battle pollution.

Please know that we Australians want to get with the program!

Yours sincerely,
Peter Campbell