Green Issue: Editorial October 2019


By the Green Issue Editors

Our October theme is Refugee policy. It’s become an extremely important part of The Greens’ Social Justice Pillar. It probably wouldn’t be so vital if the ALP and Coalition weren’t competing against each other for the “How Heartless Am I” trophy, especially with regard to their treatment of asylum seekers. The editors have been delighted to receive a wonderful variety of contributions on this Refugee theme of our October Green Issue. Taken together they provide a clear argument of what a humane approach can achieve – in stark contrast to what’s been happening for far too long now.

Three of these contributions tell important stories. One is an inspiring story about an individual’s tireless actions to support refugees with practical kindness and to campaign relentlessly to change our government’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. Betty Lee describes herself as ‘retired’ but if “withdrawal from activity” is part of your definition of “Retirement”, then you’ll need to rethink that definition after reading Betty’s story of what dedicated hard work can achieve.

We all know that meeting asylum seekers, or hearing their stories, can change Australian hearts and minds. The story of Shams, a refugee from Afghanistan, is in this great tradition. His story tells of the resilience of those suffering the long wait in Indonesia and is an indictment of Australia’s response to the crisis. Our third story is told by Renee Pettitt-Schipp, who uses her writing as an attempt to make sense of the despair she felt as an English teacher on Christmas Island. Renee’s vivid recounting of her exchanges with her students will bring both tears and joy to the reader.

The interview with Senator Nick McKim provides ample reasons for this sort of prediction. Nick has been carrying the torch for a humane refugee policy for some time and one part of this task has been to expose the cruelty that asylum seekers have endured on Nauru and Manus for six years now. In this interview, he presents updates on issues such as conditions on Manus and the political battle over Medevac.

Rob Delves praises the humanity and strong evidence base of the main Greens’ policies on refugees that they took to the recent federal election, contrasting them with those of ALP and the Coalition. He then shares his experiences of dealing with questions and objections to these policies, as he searches for common ground when doorknocking. Fellow ­Green Issue co-editor Chris Johansen uses his extensive experience as an Agricultural Scientist in Bangladesh, Syria and elsewhere to reflect on the looming crisis of Climate Refugees and Australia’s likely response: his prediction is that it’s not going to be a feel-good remake of The Good Samaritan story.

In the WA state parliament Greens MLC Hon. Alison Xamon has been instrumental in establishing Parliamentary Friends of Refugees, to raise awareness of local refugee issues.

And, we have an introduction to an organization dedicatedly advocating for refugee justice, the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN).

We also include a long and thought-provoking article on the just transition to a renewable economy by former Curtin Green, Rob Salter, who now lives in Melbourne. Rob argues that we have much to learn from the ways in which Denmark and some other European countries are managing this transition.

And we have a request to think about your will, and in doing so consider a bequest to The Greens.

Mention is also made of the successful Greens (WA) State Conference held on 12-13 October.

We include updates from two of our Members of the WA Legislative Council, Diane Evers (South West), Tim Clifford (East Metropolitan) and Alison Xamon (North Metropolitan).

Header photo: Senator Nick McKim with refugees on Manus Island during his visit there in 2017.