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Resolve to fight for a better way forward

On 5 December 2014: the Australian government votes into law perhaps the most destructive, legally unethical and punishing refugee bill in our nation's history - or even the world's.

On 5 December 2014: the Australian public vows to keep fighting.

The "worst bill ever" passed, pushed through by bullying tactics and emotional blackmail from Scott Morrison, who used children as political pawns. It's a terrible way to end the year.

Our government needs to be held accountable, and asylum seekers need hope.

Right now, the Government is hoping that we'll all be distracted by holiday celebrations - that by the time 2015 comes around, we'll have forgotten how they have behaved. We need to send a message loud and clear: we will not forget, we will not forgive, and we will keep fighting.

Join thousands of GetUp members and make this your New Year's resolution. We won't stop fighting until Australia treats refugees and asylum seekers fairly, until the human rights abuses occuring in our name stop.

What does the Worst Bill Ever passing mean?

Scott Morrison was forced to compromise in order to pass his Bill. In the end, he gave ground to crossbenchers in order to secure their support.

Some of the results of this negoitiation are genuinely good: reports suggest Scott Morrison has committed to increasing Australia's humanitarian intake to be 18,750 over the next four years; and some asylum seekers will be moved off Christmas Island to the mainland of Australia while their claims are processed. It's reported that 25,000 people currently living in Australia on bridging visas will be given the right to work; and Morrison has said some children will be released from detention on Christmas Island.

These are significant concessions, but they are decisions Morrison could have made at any time, and they are not – despite efforts to portray them as such – in any way related to the new law. In the words of Jacqui Lambie, "These kids have been in there for 15 months and you want a pat on the back? You've got to be kidding yourselves."
According to the Guardian, Scott Morrison is now the most powerful person in the Australian government:1 "No other minister, not the prime minister, not the foreign minister, not the attorney-general, has the same unchecked control over the lives of other people."

There will be a greater risk of the Australian government sending asylum seekers back to harm's way, and this Bill has shut down much of the oversight that could have stopped this. For example, the Immigration Minister can now OK boats of asylum seekers being pushed back to sea, and left there. Or he can detain people without charge, or even deport them back to countries in spite of any risks that they may face - whether it be torture, or death. We may not even know what risks we are sending them back to: new, "fast-track" applications for protection mean that many refugees will not get a hearing, only a paper review. Previously, refugee law was built upon the fundamental principle that forbids returning a person to their persecutors. This Bill has entitled Australia to ignore that principle.

1'Senate gives Scott Morrison unchecked control over asylum seekers' lives', Guardian Australia, 5 December 2014.
TPVs are back, albeit not quite in the form that the Abbott Government had hoped. Amendments mean that a person who secures a Temporary Protection Visa can possibly progress to a permanent visa in Australia. But as the Guardian notes,1 it is a concession in principle and name only. Even Morrison has said it's an unlikely reality for anyone.

1'Senate gives Scott Morrison unchecked control over asylum seekers' lives', Guardian Australia, 5 December 2014.

Make your New Year's Resolution here

Use this form to make your New Year's resolution to hold our government to account over its asylum seeker policies, and we'll make sure not just our politicians but also the asylum seekers their policies affect get to see them before the new year!

Tips: Keep your message short and sweet. The more personal you can make your message, the better: MPs want to know how refugee & asylum seeker policies will affect your vote and your community.

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