THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
MARTIN PLACE, SYDNEY
SUNDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Biloela Family, religious freedoms, Scott Morrison’s “if you have a go, you get a go”.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Thank you everyone for being here today. It's an amazing crowd. It is fantastic to see so many Australians from all walks of life out here today to support Priya and Nades and their family. I want to thank the Tamil community, I want to thank Mums for Refugees and I want to thank Craig Foster for being such powerful voices in this conversation.
Now, I'm pretty dressed up for rally. I just came from church, right down there in St Andrew's Cathedral, where today we celebrated the 200th anniversary of Governor Macquarie laying the stone for that Cathedral. And I bring that up because not only in that Christian church service did we pray for refugees, we heard a gospel where Jesus took to task the Scribes and the Pharisees for their adherence to the law over the person. Where he said that what is not important, a law is important, but more important is the soul and the wellbeing of human beings. This is in the parable, the story of the Miracle at Capernaum and I bring this up, and I say this explicitly as a Christian Australian, my message is to our Christian Prime Minister Scott Morrison – open your heart. Understand what the gospel calls us as Christians to do. It is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Where we welcome in our land the stranger, where we treat them with compassion and kindness. This is an opportunity – and I do not disparage our Prime Minister for talking openly about his faith; it's part of who he is – but this is an opportunity for him to show Christian leadership. This is an opportunity for him to reflect upon what the gospel calls us as Christians to do. And I bring that up today because having sat there in church, and said prayers for refugees and listen to that story, I thought where having a debate in this country right now about religious freedom. Religious freedom only matters if we, as religious people, speak up to the values that we hold dear and that's why I call on our Prime Minister to do the right thing as a Christian, but also to do the right thing as the Prime Minister of this nation. We have heard quoted here today from the Tamil community our Australian National Anthem. There is nothing more Australian than welcoming people who come across the seas because we have boundless plains to share.
Let's understand something the Prime Minister says in this country, ""if you have a go, you get a go."" Nobody could have asked Priya and Nades to have more of a go. This is a family that went into the Biloela community. Nades joined St Vincent de Paul for goodness sakes. Priya volunteered for the local hospital. Their children are part of that community. They got jobs. They contributed. They did what refugees have done for decades when they have come to this country – they contributed to the fabric of Australia and they made it stronger and better. I say to the Prime Minister – they had a go, so give them a go! Give them a go!
The Prime Minister wants us all to be silent Australians. We're not going to be silent on this issue. Right across Australia right now there are thousands of Australians out speaking loudly, making their voice heard. Some 230,000 of us have already signed the petition. We're not going to be silent on this Prime Minister and it's not just us. We had Barnaby Joyce join us join us today. We have Alan Jones on side. This is not a silent country and we are not going to sit silent in the face of injustice. So my challenge to you, my beg of you I ask of you today, is make sure that we are not silent. I know you're all doing so much; you are doing so much. I ask you tomorrow, find five people who haven't signed the petition and get them to sign it. Make sure if you haven't done it already, write to your local Member. And then send an email, a message, a tweet, on Facebook, a handwritten letter, send it by carrier pigeon, to David Coleman and to Scott Morrison because this cruelty could end this afternoon with a stroke of a pen from David Coleman, Minister for Immigration. This can come to an end; there's discretion in the Migration Act. If they can use it for two au pairs, they can use it for this family. Let them stay.