Page 2703 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013
and newly arrived people to our community. I believe we have all benefited from the differing skills and cultures that have been brought here, and we should be proud of our community’s response to the human needs presented. It is nothing short of hypocrisy to now sit idly by while the federal politicians play hardline politics with people’s lives.
As a small jurisdiction, I believe we have a role to play, and living as we do in the national capital, we should be a symbol of all that Australia stands for and lead by example in calling for a fair go for all. As Members of the Legislative Assembly, we have a duty to stand up and be counted amongst those who do not believe denying the human rights of the world’s most vulnerable people is just, fair or humane. I commend my motion to the Assembly.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.27): I move the amendment to Mr Rattenbury's motion circulated in my name:
Omit all words after “That this Assembly”, substitute:
“(1) notes that:
(a) refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants have often experienced trauma or tragedy and are forced to leave their countries of origin without having a choice about which country they settle in. The ACT Government is committed to assisting this group of vulnerable people living in the ACT community by identifying their needs and providing access to appropriate services and programs; and
(b) many refugees settling in the ACT on bridging visas are denied eligibility to apply for employment or to receive Centrelink benefits commensurate with other people with similar needs; and
(2) resolves to write to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition requesting that they ensure that:
(a) the Australian Government immediately grant work rights to asylum seekers who are living in the community on a bridging visa (either across the board or on a case-by-case application basis); and
(b) the Australian Government ensures that basic living allowance payments and other supports provided to people seeking asylum are commensurate with their needs and are no less than that provided to other people with similar needs in the Australian community.”.
There is no doubt the debate about refugees and asylum seekers and how as a community we respond to the challenges of increased migration of these groups of individuals is one of national interest, significance and a superheated issue in the context of the current national election debate. Today, though, through my amendment I am hoping to focus the debate more appropriately on the circumstances