The people on Manus Island who sought protection in Australia must in decency be brought to Australia. Enough is enough. The protests at the cutting of services on Manus Island, the leaked conversation between the Australian Prime Minister and the United States President and most recently the death on Manus Island of Mr Shamshiripour all hammer home that conclusion.

The health and welfare of the human beings held on Manus Island demand their return to Australia. The moral and intellectual weakness of the reasons for their incarceration there demands it. The record of neglect, callousness and contempt that have marked Australia’s treatment of people there demands it. The weariness of Australians with political posturing demands it.

It is time for a new beginning.  Four years of a bipartisan policy have rested on deterring would-be asylum seekers from coming to Australia by sending them to Nauru and Manus Island. Four years have diminished the human beings sent there, shredded the reputation of politicians and officials presiding over it, seen independent reports, health workers and groups within the Australian community call for its closure and for the transfer to Australia of people languishing there. Four years have ended with the Government determined to close the facilities and to abandon the people there.  Abandonment to what, we do not know.   Manus Island has become a symbol of Australian callousness and disrespect for human dignity.

And all this to deter from setting sail to Australia people who are already deterred and will be excluded from Australia by the Australian Navy. To use people to deter others is wrong. To use them uselessly is unreasonable. To dump them like trash is obscene.

It is time to bring the people from Manus Island to Australia. It is time to allow community groups and Churches to welcome and care for them as they have already promised.  It is a time for decency and compassion.

What has been done is an affront to the love of God, to the example of Jesus, to the teaching of the Church and to common humanity. It is time to bring them back and to share our home.

– Andy Hamilton SJ