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John Passant

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February 2016



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Free the refugees – Churches in Australia start the war of defence

On Wednesday the High Court supported the offshore concentration camp at Nauru. I wrote about it on Wednesday arguing that the decision posed questions for the refugee movement. I argued for the campaign to begin to think about ways forward to stop this barbarous activity of locking up refugees and asylum seekers offshore, and onshore too.  I argued we should consider civil disobedience and gave some examples, such as occupying the centre of town, and blocking forced deportations.

Overnight some of the churches have shown another way. For example Peter Catt, the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, has offered sanctuary to the 269 refugees facing deportation to Nauru as a consequence of the decision. If (and it is a big if) they can make it to St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane the Dean and parishioners will protect them. The left and refugee movement too could try to mobilise defence leagues of refugee activists and supporters to join with the church in stopping Peter Dutton’s Black Shirts from trying to remove them.

Ten churches have so far joined the campaign. Father Chris Bedding tweeted: ‘We will put our building and our bodies on the line to protect asylum seekers.’

Father Rod Bower at the Gosford Anglican Church is another priest who has offered sanctuary. Here are his thoughts.



One task for we refuge activists must surely be to ask other churches to do the same. Another task might be to get the refugees to the churches for their protection.

It looks as if the direct action message is spreading. According to Patrick Hatch in The Age on the Let Them Stay rally in Melbourne:

‘The protesters marched along Swanston Street and up Bourke Street, chanting “free free the refugees, let them stay, let them stay” and staged a sit-in outside the Liberal Party’s headquarters, at the corner of Exhibition Street.

‘About two thousand continued past Parliament House to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s office at the corner of Spring and Lonsdale, where they blocked the intersection and set up an microphones and a PA system on the office’s steps.’

Good work. We need more of it.

Harbouring refugees is a crime in Australia, punishable by up to ten years in jail. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton warned a radio station that not even churches were above the law.

Let’s see. Any government that sends police or border force against Christians in their churches whose only crime is defending vulnerable people risks losing lots of support and exposing the reactionary, repressive and dictatorial nature of this government and the bipartisan political support for mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and elsewhere.

And if no one is above the law, Mr Dutton, then why haven’t these church leaders offering sanctuary been arrested yet? Surely they are conspiring to break the law. Or maybe their planning is an attempt to harbour refugees.

Dutton even went so far as to say there was a lot of hype and scare campaigning going on about Nauru. Yes, all that hype and scaremongering from doctors, nurses, and the Human Rights Commission. All say that the detention centres are brutal abuse factories and do incredible harm to those locked up in them, including children. Of course, that is the whole point. That is what they are designed specifically to do.

The churches offering sanctuary is a good first step in the fight to stop the deportation of the 270 refugees back to Nauru. Let’s explore ways we can get these people to the Churches that care, and to defend those churches from state attacks. Let’s see if we can bring in more churches. I am asking my local churches to support refugees and offer sanctuary.

If some churches can take the lead, what about some unions? Where are the unions who could ask their members not to have anything to do with the deportations and to ban any action that might lead to deportation. Public servants and airline crew come immediately to mind. More importantly now is the time for unionists to demand their unions take action to prevent the deportations.

Thanks to the churches for offering to undertake civil disobedience to defend refugees. That can be a guide for the rest of us. Let’s look for more ways to bring in more people to take direct action to stop the deportations and free all the refugees.



Pingback from Free the refugees – Churches in Australia start the war of defence – WRITTEN BY JOHN PASSANT | winstonclose
Time February 5, 2016 at 3:25 am

[…] Posted by John, February 4th, 2016 – under Asylum seekers, Churches,Refugees, Sanctuary. Comments: none […]

Comment from Lorry
Time February 5, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Great article John! Where can we see a full list of those churches?

Comment from John
Time February 5, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Not sure about a full list,as it is growing all the time. And now the Victorian Trades Hall Council have offered sanctuary too. A friend posted this yesterday,

this list in from Guardian about churches offering sanctuary:
Australian Anglican churches offering sanctuary to asylum seekers
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane
St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, Darlington, WA
Perth Wesley Uniting Church
Gosford Anglican Church, Sydney
Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide
St John’s Uniting Church Essendon
Paddington Anglican Church, Sydney
Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney
Wayside Chapel, Sydney

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