The year is 2030. On behalf of the Australian people the Prime Minister apologises to refugees, now resettled in Australia and elsewhere, for the conditions they were forced to endure in offshore detention camps. As Australians, we reflect. How could we allow this to happen? What could we have done to stop it?
David Manne, Refugee Legal Executive Director, delivers the keynote address at the 2019 Communities in Control Conference.
Like the apologies to the Stolen Generation and to the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, this is inevitable.
We must not allow decades to pass before it is reality.
The current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison’s words in his 2018 Apology are worth reflecting on, this time in relation to those vulnerable people who are forced to flee their homes to seek safety elsewhere. And who are ‘welcomed’ by Australia with cruel policies, false accusations and the degradation and permanent damage of offshore processing, indefinite detention and a government proud to spend millions on private ‘security’ (prison guards) and litigation to prevent medical evacuations for dying innocents.
Today, Australia confronts a trauma – an abomination – hiding in plain sight for far too long.
Today, we confront a question too horrible to ask, let alone answer. …
Why was our system of justice blind to injustice?
Why has it taken so long to act? …
While we can’t be so vain to pretend to answers, we must be so humble to fall before those who were forsaken and beg to them our apology.
A sorry that dare not ask for forgiveness.
A sorry that dare not try and make sense of the incomprehensible or think it could.
A sorry that does not insult with an incredible promise.
A sorry that speaks only of profound grief and loss.
A sorry from a nation that seeks to reach out in compassion into the darkness where you have lived for so long. …
As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them. That will always be our shame.
This apology is for them and their families too.
As one survivor recently said to me, “It wasn’t a foreign enemy who did this to us – this was done by Australians.”
To Australians.Enemies in our midst.
Enemies. In. Our. Midst.
Australian Prime Minister
2 Oct 2018
Parliament House, Canberra
Scott Morrison is not sorry today.
But I am.
I am ashamed. Disgusted. Overwhelmed.
And I am very very sorry.
And I will not wait until 2030 until I hear the same from Parliament House Canberra.