THE Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, has urged
politicians on both sides of Australian politics to work together
to find a solution to the problem of asylum-seekers who arrive by
The issue of boat arrivals has caused political controversy in
Australia for more than a decade, but the recent rapid increase in
the numbers of arrivals, and of deaths at sea, has inflamed the
"We have a system in crisis, and nothing less than a national
consensus can fix it," Dr Freier said. "Our nation's political
leaders owe it to us all to put aside electoral advantage, and
agree on policies that are compassionate, and protect
asylum-seekers from exploitation, and death at sea."
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Leader of the
Opposition, Tony Abbott, should "tone down the rhetoric of the
debate", he said.
The Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt Revd John Harrower, used Twitter
to tell Mr Rudd that "Jesus weeps" over the new policy to deter
asylum-seekers from arriving by sea, announced by the Prime
Minister. This policy will not allow asylum-seekers deemed to be
refugees to resettle in Australia. They will be resettled either in
Papua New Guinea, where they will all now go for processing and
detention, or in a third country.
Bishop Harrower called the policy "reprehensible". Christian
leaders such Mr Rudd, who is a regular churchgoer, and Mr Abbott, a
Roman Catholic, should be working to find a genuine regional
solution - including refugee resettlement in Australia - to the
problem of boat arrivals, he said.
This week the Prime Minister is expected to set a date for the
federal election, which is due before the end of the year.
Asylum-seeker policy will be a key election issue.