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End Australia's Detention Disgrace

After an impassioned afternoon of debate at the Labor Party Conference, delegates voted to support a platform that includes increased humanitarian intake, and a commitment to get kids out of detention quickly -- though Bill Shorten has said that Labor will keep the 'option open' to turn back asylum seeker boats, the platform makes no mention of it.

Most worryingly, the centrepiece of our current broken detention centres remains upheld, with the delegates voting down an amendment that would have seen Manus and Nauru detention centres closed if they could not uphold basic human rights.

This much is clear: there's so much more we need to demand from our two major political parties for. Manus and Nauru detention centres are expensive, harmful and heartless experiments -- and yet, they remain open, and supported by our major parties. Kids have been systematically abused in our offshore detention centres -- and yet, they remain imprisoned. Turning back asylum seekers on the open sea endangers the lives of entire families -- and neither major party will stand against it.

The Conference has voted, but that doesn't mean the debate is over. The decisions made at Conference mean Labor's platform is effectively silent on many of the core problems facing Australia's asylum seeker policy – but we can work with silence. We can fill it with demands for something better.

Over 106,000 Australians have already added their voices to this petition calling for the closure of the detention centres on Manus and Nauru – something the Labor delegates seemed to forget. Let's remind them, by building this petition so it's bigger and stronger than ever. Will you add your name, so that together we can fill Labor's silence with demands for a better system, one that refuses to maintain institutions that are rife with human rights abuse?2,3

We know we can influence Labor – in fact, we've already done it once on this issue. On the Saturday morning before the vote, GetUp members funded this advertisement in The Australian, calling on the Labor Conference not to back turn-backs. We might not have seen the harsh policy ruled out altogether today, but we certainly made sure that Bill Shorten understood what he's up against – a vast group of Australians who care about asylum seeker policy, and are working tirelessly to make it better.

1 'ALP conference: left to move motion prohibiting boat turnbacks – politics live', Guardian Australia, 25 June 2015
2 'Immigration detention psychiatrist Dr Peter Young says treatment of asylum seekers akin to torture', ABC, 6th August 2014.
3 'Detention "Sanctioned Child Abuse"', Medical Journal of Australia, 6th October 2014.


To the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Members of the Australian Senate,

The conditions inside the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres are cruel, unsanitary and unacceptable. The safety and wellbeing of people inside these facilities cannot be guaranteed, as shown time and time again.

We call on you to abide by Australia's international legal and humanitarian obligations, put an end to this shameful policy and close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres now.

112,320 signatures

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