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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20000


Ms PLIBERSEK (1:53 PM) —Last week, a number of members of parliament and senators were presented with petitions from refugee groups in Sydney, Canberra and other places. In total, there were 13,000 signatures on a number of petitions. One petition called for Iranians not to be forcibly deported, and a second petition, the one that I hold here, with 1,067 signatures, calls on the Speaker and the President of the Senate:

... as an Act of Grace from the Parliament to the people of Australia, to support all asylum seekers and refugees in Australia's care. They are people who have committed no crime and deserve our compassion and help.

The signatories of this petition wanted that act of grace by Easter 2003. They want temporary protection visa holders to be granted permanent residence, unless they have not been law abiding, and they want the parliament to authorise the immediate release into the community of all asylum seekers who are not a health, identity or security concern. This petition shows a great deal of goodwill and compassion on behalf of the signatories and on behalf of the refugee advocates who collected the signatures for the petition. It would be wonderful to see some of that goodwill and compassion come from the government also.