Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.

Merry Christmas pic

Dear Mr Morrison,

As promised in February, in the tradition of William Wilberforce, I have continued to write to you regularly even though I rarely receive a reply.   I also write consistently to my local Member of Parliament.  She always ends her responses with, “Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further queries regarding this or any other issue.”.  However, she has now requested that I focus solely on writing to you directly.  She says that you are best placed to address my concerns.  Therefore, although I suspect that you will not reciprocate, I have decided to write you this Christmas greeting.

Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.

I wonder how you will send your Christmas greetings this year.  Will you choose cards emblazoned with words such as ‘peace’, ‘hope’ and ‘joy’?  I wonder how you will reconcile those words with the turmoil, hopelessness and despair inflicted on lives by the policies and legislation you have put in place.  Will you write a Christmas letter this year?  Perhaps it will be full of the news and happenings of your family life.  Perhaps it will contain photos of your wife and your two children, and detailed explanations of their activities and their achievements.  For those whose lives you have suspended in unending separation and statelessness with your Temporary Protection Visas, the exchange of letters will be one of the few experiences of family.  Their letters will be written with longing and sadness, instead of with celebration and pride.  Instead of outlining happy events, those letters are more likely to be filled with tales of the terror of ongoing persecution at one end, and of loneliness and desperation at the other.

Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.  I hope your Christmas greetings are written with sincerity.

Will you wander the shopping centres this Christmas, enjoying the cheerful decorations and selecting gifts for those you love?  I read recently that a man on Manus Island only had the set of clothes he was wearing, and that he walked barefoot because he had no shoes.  His frequent requests for these basic items were refused.  Perhaps you could add some shoes and a shirt or two to your Christmas shopping list.  I also read that babies on Christmas Island have no safe or clean spaces to play or to learn to crawl.  Perhaps you could gift-wrap some floor rugs, playpens and toys and send them by express post.

Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.  I hope your Christmas gifts are chosen with love.

Given the proclamation of Christian faith in your maiden Parliament speech, I expect that you will probably attend a Christmas service.  I wonder which carols will be performed, and if you will lift your voice to join with others singing the words.  Will you sing about a tender, mild infant sleeping in heavenly peace?  I wonder how that will resonate with you, given that you have just classified babies, born to asylum seekers, as ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ and ‘transitory persons’ and are in the process of rounding them up to send them to Nauru.*  I can’t imagine there will be much sleeping in heavenly peace in Nauru amid reported instances of child abuse and the threat of Malaria.

I wonder which Scriptures will be read in church.  Perhaps you will hear the passage from Isaiah 61; the prophecy that the Messiah would be sent to the earth to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to bring freedom from darkness for the captives.  There are few more broken-hearted people than those who were forced to flee their homes, their loved ones and everything they hold dear, only to be punished by the use of arbitrary, indefinite detention.  There is little worse news than being told that new laws mean that you have no chance of ever being given the opportunity to start your life afresh in peace and safety, and that you could be sent back to torture or execution at any time.  Perhaps you will hear the passage from Matthew 2; the part where Mary and Joseph were forced to flee to Egypt to save Jesus from being slaughtered in Herod’s Bethlehem infanticide.  I pray that this will give you a greater understanding of why Hazara mothers put their unaccompanied minors in the hands of people smugglers to whisk them away from the reach of the Taliban.

Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.  I hope the ancient Scriptures speak directly to your heart.

I wonder how you will celebrate Christmas Day.  Will your family meal be a traditional Christmas feast?  Or is a relaxed Australian barbeque more your style? Either way, there is bound to be an abundance of delicious food and festive drinks.  I wonder if the men in detention on Manus Island will be limited to 500mls of drinking water for the day as Amnesty International found when they visited one of the compounds.  I wonder if the same mouldy yoghurt will be offered to the children in detention on Nauru.

Will your table include candles to symbolise the light and hope that Jesus brought to the world that very first Christmas?  People’s hope of freedom and safety has been destroyed by your new legislation; legislation which allows you to return people to persecution in their homelands regardless of the protection obligations that are due to them under international law.  Australia’s humanitarian light has also been extinguished by your new legislation; legislation which allows Navy and Customs vessels to disregard maritime safety laws and to tow boats to any location at sea and leave them there, unsafe and ill equipped.

Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.  May your Christmas table be set with goodwill.

I don’t much feel like celebrating Christmas this year.  I carry a heavy sense of shame for what Australia has become.  My heart aches for my brothers and sisters in humanity, and for people who have become my very dear friends.  But I will choose to celebrate regardless. Jesus, whose birth we reflect on at Christmas, taught us to extend peace, hope, joy, love and light to our fellow humans.  While your new legislation gives you an enormous amount of power and control, it can never stop individual, decent people from doing that.

So, Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.

*News released on December 18 advises that Senator Ricky Muir and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have been able to prevent babies who were born in Australia before 4/12/14 from being sent to Nauru.  Babies born after that date, however, will still be transferred to Nauru with their families as per the new legislation.

11 thoughts on “Merry Christmas, Mr Morrison.

  1. Incredibly powerful stuff. very well written, seconded by me and thankyou for this. I’ve posted it on Scott Morrison’s fb page too FWIW

  2. The Secret People :

    There are secret people out there.
    We are not allowed to know
    We are NOT allowed to meet
    And they are NOT allowed to show
    We cannot know their names and faces
    We cannot hear their tales
    True or false, ambiguous
    All hid in worse than jails.
    They will not let us see their tears
    They dare not say their names
    No specifics only bogeymen
    Yet human just the same.
    We lock them up in limbo
    More years than murder gets
    Traumatising endless torment
    Mean government abets
    Yet these are really people
    But for twist of chance go you or I.
    By accident of birth it is,
    Perhaps the only why.
    These people here we cannot know
    Each has a tale to tell
    They number many thousands
    But each life has been through hell.
    One is a new born baby,
    Denied a mothers touch,
    Scott Morrison commanded that,
    The voters did as much
    There are among them women,
    Who fled the clutch of rape,
    Who’ve faced religious zealotry,
    That makes our own land’s bigots gape.
    Many men among them have been caught up in our war
    A lot of them were on our side and know what we’re fighting for
    We love Malala’s story, the schoolgirl that survived
    But we‘re locking up those like her, unnamed and thus deprived.
    The government’s not scared of them
    This “invasion” comes unarmed
    No real threat but polling counts they fear shall be harmed.
    We cannot know these secret people for if we only knew
    We wouldn’t be afraid of them and they know this is true.
    Without the fear and hatred the government wouldn’t gain
    They “win” their office pitiless on real people’s pain.

    – Stevo Raine,
    Nov. 29th 2014, earlier version 15th Nov. 2013. Please feel free to share and use as best helps those who are those secret people.

  3. I know. There are a lot of good people out there who are starting to stand up and make a difference. I do have hope and I do think we’ll win. But meanwhile, so much appalling damage is being done in so many areas. The end of Abbott, the end of this mindset of unAustralian, inhumane hatred cannot come soon enough.

  4. Wow! What a comprehensive litany you present in this. I am so glad you confront Morrison’s “Christian” links. I too can but wonder how these elected ministers – in both LNP & Labor – can celebrate Christmas when “they” are continuing the support and creation of concentration camps for people who risked coming here hoping for something better, for peace, for safety. Thank you so much for this.

  5. What a wonderful piece of writing. Thank you so much. Very powerful.
    Thought: are you able to forward a copy to other members of the parliamentary prayer group?

    • Thanks Sue. Parliamentary prayer group? I am not aware of this group. Feel free to copy the web address for this page into an email and send it to the members if you know who they are.

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