The Anglican Church is urging the Government and Opposition to extend to asylum seekers in detention the bipartisan approach seen recently over Syrian refugees and people-trafficking.
The Church says a bipartisan approach could work in areas such as education, work-rights, and removing children and families from detention without encouraging people-smugglers.
Melbourne Bishop Philip Huggins has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calling for “some kind of bipartisan amnesty”.
He says both parties’ policies are now similar, both supporting admitting an extra 12,000 refugees from Syria, both eager to prevent people-trafficking.
Asylum seekers now in Australia or off-shore detention centres could also benefit from a bipartisan approach, says Bishop Huggins, chair of the Anglican Church’s General Synod Working Group on Refugees and Asylum seekers.
“There is plainly no third country which will be taking these asylum seekers. It seems most are refugees and therefore can't be returned to their original home-land,” Bishop Huggins wrote.
“It is cruel to leave their fate undetermined and to treat them, in effect, just as collateral damage from the previous effort to shut down people-trafficking. Unless you agree on a plan together, their current plight will continue. Some kind of bi-partisan amnesty is needed.”