Refugee activists propose 'code of conduct' for Morrison and Coalition ministers

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Geelong refugee rights activists with the proposed code of conduct.

Refugee activists in Melbourne and Geelong rallied on December 20 to present a new "Code of Conduct" to the Immigration Department for Coalition ministers, after immigration minister Scott Morrison proposed a new "code of conduct" for asylum seekers.

The Sydney Morning Herald said on December 21 about Morrison's: "Under previous arrangements, anyone on a bridging visa alleged to have broken the law and facing criminal proceedings was returned to detention while the matter made its way through the courts, but the new code greatly widens the types of behaviour that can lead to the penalty.

"Disobeying road rules, failing to comply with an instruction to undertake health treatment, or refusing to co-operate with officials as they review their refugee claims are also deemed to be breaches of the code. Mr Morrison confirmed that asylum seekers on bridging visas could be sent back to detention without breaking the law, but he said it would require serial breaches."

See photos of the event.

The propsed code of conduct for Coalition ministers propsed by the Refugee Action Collective is below:

CODE OF BEHAVIOUR FOR PUBLIC INTEREST CRITERION 4023

Preamble:

Scott Morrisons "Code of Behaviour" for asylum seekers is an act of discrimination, intended to smear asylum seekers. Asylum seekers, like all people residing in an Australian territory are already subject to Australian laws. The code of conduct is therefore both an exercise in propaganda, and an attempt to impose extra rules for a specific group, reminiscent of the White Australia Policy and Apartheid in South Africa.

This is just the latest in a series of such attempts by Morrison and the Coalition to smear asylum seekers. These have previously included such nonsensical claims as asylum seekers may spread communicable disease, may be carrying guns, and are responsible for traffic congestion.

Australian Bureau of Statics figures show that asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas are about 45 times less likely to be charged with a crime than members of the general public. Statistic also show that over 25% of Tony Abbott's front bench have had to repay claims for wrongful travel expenses, including Abbott and Morrison themselves, with questions surrounding many more.

Clearly it is the Coalition front bench in need of a "Code of Behaviour", not asylum seekers. The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) is deeply concerned at the actions of the front bench and their impact on the rights of others.

As Margaret Stone (of the Stone Review ) put it, "It's not guesswork in the terms of tossing a coin, but it is prediction"... that there will be further crimes committed by the Coalition front bench against asylum seekers, and the Australian people. Therefore Refugee Action Collective has drawn up a code of conduct, for the governments' own good, and the protection of the rest of us.

The Refugee Action Collective approves the following Code of Behaviour specified in the Schedule to this instrument for the purpose of applicants seeking to satisfy the criteria of holding public office.

Code of Behaviour for Scott Morrison and the Coalition Front Bench Minsters

This Code of Behaviour contains a list of expectations about how you will behave at all times while holding public office in Australia. It does not contain all your rights and duties under Australian law. If you are found to have breached the Code of Behaviour, you could be dismissed from office. If you are dismissed from office, and any crimes committed publicly uncovered, you could be made available for further processing and detention.

While you are living in the Australian community and claiming to serve it:

* You must not disobey existing Australian laws, including laws preventing illegal deportation of West Papuan Asylum seekers, laws preventing refoulement of refugees resulting from "enhanced screening" or other abuse of due process, or rules governing travel expenses. You must not falsely claim that others are "illegal". You must not attempt to create laws that contravene human rights, or circumvent parliamentary votes via regulation.

* You must not facilitate the occurrence of sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent, regardless of their age, under your watch in detention centres. Specifically, you must release the report of the investigation into claims by senior manager of Manus Island detention centre Rod St George that a rape victim continued to be housed with their rapist because "no one leaves Manus", despite pleas for this not to happen.

* You must not get involved in any kind of criminal activity in Australia, including claiming fraudulent travel expenses. You must understand that wrongful claims cannot be excused as "accidents" or "unintentional". You must accept that weddings and sporting events are private functions, not tax payer funded events. You must accept that like bank robbers you cannot pay back proceeds once caught out and get off scott-free.
You must co-operate with all reasonable requests in regard to the resolution of your expenses claims, including requests to attend interviews or to provide or obtain identity and/or travel documents. You must also cooperate with all reasonable requests for information regarding asylum seekers.

* You must stop the scapegoating -- you must not harass, intimidate or bully any asylum seeker, or other person or group of people, or engage in any anti-social or disruptive activities that are inconsiderate, disrespectful or threaten the peaceful enjoyment of asylum seekers, ethnic minorities, Aboriginal people or other members of the community.

* You must not refuse to comply with any health undertaking or direction issued by the Chief Medical Officer, or the electorate, in regards to your own sanity and fitness for public office. You must not damage the health of asylum seekers, or the Australian public, whether via cutbacks to services, poisonous political rhetoric or obscene waste of tax payer dollars on offshore processing. You must accept that you were not born to rule.

* You must acknowledge asylum seekers as human beings with the same rights as the rest of us.

I, __________[Ministers name to be written]_______ ______________________________________ agree to abide by this Code of Behaviour while I holding public office in Australia. I understand that ifI do not abide by the Code of Behaviour my income support may be reduced or ceased, I may be dismissed from office, and I may be made available for further processing and detention.
Signature: ________________________________
Date:_____________________________________


From GLW issue 992