As Anglican Church leaders, we congratulate Mr Howard on his Government’s re-election. May God grant wisdom to the new Commonwealth Government.
As the Prime Minister reshapes the new government, we call for an urgent rethink on seven key national issues. This call arises from our deep concern about divisions within the Australian community, which have been exacerbated during the election campaign.
We call for the new Government to restore Australia’s standing as a nation that is compassionate to those in need and committed to a fair go for all.
The seven issues of concern are:
- The response to terrorism
- The treatment of asylum seekers
- Aged care
- The funding of schools
- Public housing
The terrorist attack on September 11 2001 shocked and horrified people of goodwill across the world. We have expressed our condemnation of those appalling and indiscriminate acts of violence. But we also recognise that injustice provides the fuel for fanaticism and terrorism.
Consequently, we urge the Government to broaden its response to the terrorism perpetrated against the United States. Despite the recent rapid advances made by Northern Alliance forces, the suffering of the Afghan people continues.
A continuing military campaign in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries on earth, may not succeed in ending the terrorist threat. Indeed, it risks being seen as an attack on all people of Islamic faith. The bombing campaign and the vicious retribution of Alliance forces have increased the flow of refugees to neighbouring
countries and could well incite further acts of violence.
We urge the Government to add its voice to international calls for action to relieve the suffering of the Afghan refugees and to advance the peace process in the Middle East. Without a just settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, there is little hope of an end to terror and the achievement of a lasting peace.
Asylum Seekers a Global Issue
We share the concern of growing numbers of Australians that the Government’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers has tarnished Australia’s proud record of providing a safe home for refugees and has undermined multicultural harmony in our community.
We do not question Australia’s right to decide who enters this country but we see no reason why the concern for secure borders should erode our international responsibilities to provide asylum to refugees, and our human duty to treat asylum seekers with compassion.
Australia has the capacity to respond more compassionately to the people fleeing brutal regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, Australia has the moral responsibility to respond because of its support for the bombing of Iraq and now Afghanistan. This has, in part, caused people to flee.
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