The Uniting Church has called on political candidates to not use refugees as a ‘political football’ in the wake of comments by immigration minister Peter Dutton that asylum seekers both take Australian jobs and languish in unemployment queues
Mr Dutton told Sky News last night that many potential refugees “won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English”.
“Now, these people would be taking Australian jobs. There’s no question about that,” Dutton told Sky News host Paul Murray.
“And for many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it. So there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”
Rev Elenie Poulos, national director of UnitingJustice, accused the minister of playing politics with the lives of refugees by giving a false and negative representation of Australia’s success in resettlement.
“It is extremely disappointing to hear an Australian immigration minister make such confused, illogical and inflammatory comments for what are clearly political purposes,” she said.
“Refugees have made wonderful contributions to Australian society over decades. Our resettlement program is commonly regarded as one of the best in the world.”
Mr Dutton made his remarks while talking about the Greens proposal to increase Australia’s annual refugee intake to 50,000.
The current intake is 13,750, which this financial year has a one off-addition of 12,000 refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq.
Ms Poulos added her weight to calls to take in more refugees.
“As one of the wealthiest and most secure countries in the world Australia can, and should, be helping more refugees,” she said.
“The fact is that Australia’s minimum quota of 13,750 refugees for the 2016-17 year is not even 1 per cent of the global need.
“The Uniting Church in Australia’s refugee policy statement Shelter from the Storm recommends an immediate increase of our refugee resettlement program to 25,000 people plus an increase to the special intake of refugees from Syria and Iraq.
“We call on all political candidates to do the right thing. Refugees must not be used as a political football.”
Image by Takver via Flickr