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Tuesday, 15 September 2015 09:01

CRA writes to Minister Dutton on his joke on rising sea levels in the Pacific

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Fr Claude Mostowik msc 150CRA Justice Network Coordinator, Fr Claude Mostowik msc, has written to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, over his joke about rising sea levels in Pacific Island Nations.

In his letter dated 11 September, Fr Claude emphasised that climate change is a serious issue for the peoples of the Pacific, citing Catholic religious congregations' involvement in these countries.

"We have built close ties with these people and share the anxiety, pain, and fear that they face as their traditional way of life, their land, their culture are threatened by the effects of climate change and poverty."

"It is with dismay and deep concern that a minister of the Australian government like yourself could joke about rising sea levels...We consider your ‘joke’ as highly irresponsible, arrogant and completely inappropriate to make even in a private conversation - specially following the Pacific Island Forum where Prime Minister Tony Abbott had just returned from lengthy talks focused on climate change with Pacific Island leaders in Port Moresby. The apparent outcome from the discussions even reflect the crumbs that we are only prepared to share with our Pacific neighbours."

"The people of Kiribati as well as their Pacific Island nation neighbours are active in dealing with the crisis they face and they do not need that to be made light of."

"The religious congregations that have worked with the peoples of the Pacific and those that still do, such as my own congregation, will continue to stand in solidarity with them as they exercise a prophetic leadership in our region despite the fact that they are small nations. Our members will continue to respectfully amplify their voices for justice and respect. This was not evident in your so-called ‘joke’. People have died, people are sick and people will die and people will have to possibly flee because we as a nation have ignored them."

Fr Claude suggested that Minister Dutton make a public apology and recommended a visit to these Pacific countries and listen to the voices of their leaders.

"We have seen where land has been lost to the sea. We know the consequences of not having fresh water. We know where the gardens have been, and no more, because of water salination. Minister, we are not many boats on the oceans where we might be able to isolate ourselves from the problems of our sisters and brothers. We are in fact one ship with many cabins. We will all be affected, some much sooner than others."

pdf  Read the full text of the letter to Minister Peter Dutton. (117.72 kB)  

pdf  Read the related letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Minister Peter Dutton's comments. (128.71 kB)