Culture

State Premiers Join Daniel Andrews’ Call To Let Refugees Awaiting Deportation Stay In Australia

QLD, ACT, Tasmania and NSW have also pledged to take them in.

Yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put himself at odds with federal Labor by writing to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to offer to resettle the 267 asylum seekers currently waiting to be sent back to Nauru. In the letter, which he posted to Facebook and Twitter, Andrews said he would rather have them settled in Victoria than sent back to “a life of physical and emotional trauma”. It comes off the back of a High Court decision which upheld the legality of Australia’s controversial offshore detention centres, and the ensuing snap protest rallies that were held around the country.

Andrews received a huge amount of praise and support from the public, and other state premiers were called on to follow suit. And it seems they are: today, Australian Capital Territory’s chief minister Andrew Barr, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk all said they are willing to take in the asylum seekers.

“Queensland stands willing and able to help those families that are currently here,” Palaszczuk said in a statement. “I don’t think Queenslanders want to see children in that situation. Where is the humanity? Where is the compassion from the federal government?”

She also said she would call the prime minister to talk to him further about the damaging effects of offshore detention on children, and that it was “time we put politics to one side”.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has also said he’s on board, should the prime minister bow to pressure. Calling Andrews “a good man”, he signalled NSW would be prepared to take in some of the refugees. “I recognise the humanitarian impulse behind [Mr Andrews’] letter to the Prime Minister,” Baird told the Sydney Morning Herald last night. “The same impulse has driven us to work co-operatively with the Commonwealth to resettle an additional intake of refugees in NSW following the recent turmoil in Syria, which is where our focus remains.

“If the PM has any additional requests for NSW we are prepared to help.”

But it doesn’t look like those additional requests will happen soon. Turnbull was interviewed on ABC’s Insiders this morning, and reiterated the government’s “firm line” in returning the asylum seekers to Nauru. “If we don’t take a firm line, we know what the consequences will be. This is not theoretical,” he said. “It’s a very big issue… managing the security of Australia’s borders is one of the most challenging problems, issues, that the Australian government faces.

“There are no policy options available in terms of border protection that are not tough, which cannot be described as harsh.”

Turnbull also said the government is dealing with the asylum seekers “with compassion and we’re dealing with them on a case-by-case basis”, but avoided revealing whether they would make any exceptions. You can watch the full interview below: