More compassion please: calls for change of attitude to asylum seekers

OUTRAGED BY COBB COMMENTS: Asylum seeker advocate Libby Jones is not happy about recent comments from John Cobb. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0712sgasylum1

OUTRAGED BY COBB COMMENTS: Asylum seeker advocate Libby Jones is not happy about recent comments from John Cobb. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0712sgasylum1

AUSTRALIANS need an attitude change in the way they view and treat asylum seekers and such a change should start with the Federal government, according to one Orange resident.

Asylum seeker advocate Libby Jones was outraged by member for Calare John Cobb’s comments on the government’s asylum seeker policy, printed in Thursday’s edition of the Central Western Daily, and said the demonising of refugees had to stop.

Mr Cobb stated his constituents were not pushing for a change in government policy and said “people don’t want to see refugees queue jump” but Mrs Jones said it was not a matter of queue jumping.

“I just think its totally inhuman that we’re treating people this way,” she said. “No one in their right mind would put themselves in a situation like that. They do it because they’re forced to flee their homes because of persecution.”

Mrs Jones said she believed a change in negative attitudes had to come from the top, and said if she could change one thing, it would to be to close down the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru and have asylum seekers processed on Australia’s mainland.

“Until our politicians are compassionate about the way they speak about these people, things won’t change,” Mrs Jones said.

“It needs to be more open and transparent, none of this cloak and dagger stuff Scott Morrison is playing with.”

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Mr Cobb’s comments in the article “Asylum seekers in crisis” on page three of Thursday’s paper also angered a group of 24 Orange women who wrote to the member for Calare, criticising the Coalition’s treatment of asylum seekers. 

Mrs Jones agreed with the letter, also published in Saturday’s paper, and said she wanted to add her name to the list of the women’s signatures.

However, an online poll on the CWD’s website had a majority of people agree with Mr Cobb’s statements, and as of Saturday afternoon 274 people had voted, with 51 per cent of people agreeing with the member for Calare’s comments and the government’s “stop the boats” policy.

A following 56 per cent of 276 people said the way the policy had been implemented would not change the way they would vote at the next federal election.

Mrs Jones said she was shocked that there was such a lack of compassion among the community.

“You think people would be more understanding because we do live in such a multicultural society,” she said. 

“Who are we to judge? If your life is at stake, you would do anything to save it, and the lives of your children too.”

alexandra.king@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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