John (Rural Australians for Refugees – Bellingen Branch),

I have been forwarded a copy of your public comments regarding myself following our brief conversation in a public thoroughfare on Saturday.

I feel you have misrepresented my position and ask that you share this email with your membership, as I have done on my website – .

There were three issues at the heart of our conversation, as reported to your members:

  • Off-shore processing.
  • The political implications of this issue.
  • Labor Party Conference.

Let me go through these one by one. But first, let me say I 100 per cent support Labor’s current asylum seeker policy. It is a humane and compassionate approach inline with majority community wants. That said, hopefully some refinements will be made at conference to improve the basic fundamentals of this fair policy.

To the specific issues.

Offshore processing: The 2015 conference endorsed the Labor policy to significantly accelerate off-shore processing of detainees, particularly children. I wholeheartedly support this and the proposed refinements for consideration by the 2018 conference.

Political implications: For a decade now the people of Australia, according to myriad polls, support off-shore processing. All too often, I hear people say “you politicians don’t listen to the people”. Here we are listening to the majority of people and yet we are criticised for it. And yes, if you don’t listen to voters and act in accordance with their wishes, you lose votes. That’s basic politics.

Conference: Labor wants to put a time limit on offshore processing and this appears to have significant support, including my own.

On Saturday, I gave you a copy of our current policy and I look forward to receiving your feedback on it. We also have a draft of the policy being taken to the 2018 conference. I invite your feedback on this too. You can read it here: LINK. See pages 160 to 169 on Humanitarian Migration Program.

I hate seeing and hearing about the human rights abuses under the current government. It just doesn’t sadden me, it disgusts me.

Personally, I am well aware of the issue of asylum seekers and refugees. What we see today is nothing compared to what we may see in the future. Part of my studies as a Master of Environmental Management at UNSW looked at the issue of climate refugees. In the years ahead the world will have to deal with hundreds of millions of climate refugees. This is one of the reasons I work in the sustainability industry and advocate to government for stronger action on climate change. Perversely, government policy in thids country accelerates the climate crisis, which will help lead to a climate refugee crisis.

You can read one of my papers on the issue here: Climate change refugees and migration . The Senate last week brought down a report on the National Secuirty implications of climate change and I am pleased to see it raised the issue of refugees LINK. Hopefully this report will help place the issue higher on the national agenda.

John, a ‘pure’ world will be a much different place to be in. Unfortunately, we don’t live and work in a pure world and we never will. So, so we have to work with what we have got and balance community views with public policy. There are many different views, agendas and vested interests at play in many issues, including asylum seekers, people smuggling and the wider migration program. I simply seek a more compassionate and humane approach for legitimate asylum seekers and I therefore fully support Labor’s policy. I was at the 2015 conference in Melbourne and listened to the debates intently. I am happy with what we have agreed to.

I look forward to hearing from you on our current policy and proposed refinements and having further conversations with you in environments conducive to constructive discussion.

Andrew Woodward

Labor Candidate for Cowper

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