At the August 14 Moreland Council meeting, Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton moved a motion for the council to oppose the PNG asylum-seeker dumping deal and welcome refugees and asylum-seekers to Australia. The motion also called for asylum-seekers on bridging visas to have the right to work. The motion passed with only two votes against (both ALP; one Labor and one Liberal councillor were absent). The motion reads as follows:
That Moreland council notes with dismay the policies of the federal government and opposition of sending all asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia by boat to detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru and denying resettlement in Australia to any of these asylum-seekers who are found to be refugees.
Council also notes with dismay the policy of denying the right to work for asylum-seekers living on bridging visas in the community while waiting for their claims to be processed. This policy has resulted in the severe impoverishment of asylum-seekers on bridging visas.
Council has a long established policy of endorsement for the Refugee Council of Australia’s Refugee Welcome Zones Declaration.
Council also endorsed the 2013 World Refugee Day Rally on June 16 which had a focus of ‘Welcome Refugees; Close Manus Island; Close Nauru; End mandatory detention; Stop deportations to danger’
Council resolves to:
1. Write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, leader of the federal opposition Tony Abbott and local MP Kelvin Thomson indicating Moreland Council’s:
a. opposition to the plan to deport all asylum-seekers arriving by boat to PNG and Nauru and instead welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Australia.
b. Support for asylum-seekers who are living in the community on bridging visas while their asylum claims are being processed, be allowed to work and have access to the full Newstart Allowance payment when not working.
2. Investigate with local services and charities the number of asylum-seekers on bridging visas without the right to work living in the Moreland area and level of need and report back to council on practical assistance that council could provide.