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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17143

To the honourable the speaker sand members of the house of representatives in parliament assembled:

We, the undersigned, are moved by the plight of the more than 1600 East Timorese asylum seekers currently residing in Australia and consider that there is a need for the Australian government to address their situation.

These asylum seekers have lived in Australia for almost a decade and have integrated well into our way of life, with many of their children being born here and knowing no other reality.

Many of these people have close family ties here in Australia, they have contributed positively to the Australian community and are held in high esteem within their neighbourhoods. For many, returning to East Timor is not a viable option. Some have severed emotional ties with East Timor to enable them to cope with the traumatic experiences that they suffered there. While others have lost their homes and land and have no remaining relatives and have nothing to return to. We acknowledge that the human rights crisis has passed in East Timor, but with most of the infrastructure decimated by the Indonesians it will be many years before they enjoy a viable economy.

We ask that you make it a matter of conscience to give these East Timorese asylum seekers special consideration and vote to grant them permanent residency.

by Mr McArthur (from 91 citizens)