Star Power: The Who’s Who Of Australia Call On Labor To Reset Its Refugee Policy


Peter Carey, Margaret Pomeranz, Ian Chappell and several hundred other prominent Australians have backed a small group of rebel MPs battling to shift the Labor Party’s stance on refugees. Max Chalmers reports.

Some of nation’s most iconic names in sport, the arts, science, the legal profession and academia have joined forces to call on the Labor Party to change track on refugee policy.

The group, which now boasts 258 members, has petitioned the party to vote in favour of a motion going before caucus today demanding either greater independent oversight over offshore detention centres, or their complete closure.

It includes artists, film-makers, religious leaders, academics, doctors, writers, journalists, composers, union leaders, human rights and refugee activists, CEOs, lawyers, even a former Labor state premier and a federal Liberal immigration minister.

Among the members are former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell, former News Corp executive Kim Williams, National Living Treasure and businesswoman Janet Holmes à Court, New Matilda founder and former high ranking public servant John Menadue, human rights lawyer Julian Burnside, and journalist Tracey Spicer.

Joining them are scores of prominent writers, artists and performers including Peter Carey, Tim Winton, Geraldine Brooks, David Williamson, Thomas Kenneally, Miriam Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, John Bell, Kate Miller-Heidke, Missy Higgins, and Benjamin Law.

ACTU President Ged Kearney, Australia’s first Aboriginal barrister Pat O’Shane, and film critics Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton have joined the list.

The 2015 Sydney Peace Prize winner, film-maker George Gittoes AM has also attached his name.

Core members of the group have been working behind the scenes to change the views of those in the Labor’s parliamentary wing, and help break the bipartisan consensus on boat turnbacks and mandatory offshore detention.

Author Robin de Crespigny... the driving force behind the project. (IMAGE: Mosman Library, Flickr)
Author Robin de Crespigny… the driving force behind the project. (IMAGE: Mosman Library, Flickr)

Robin de Crespigny, author of The People Smuggler and a driving force behind the project, told New Matilda the idea had come after a conversation with late Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, at a writer’s festival event.

The group that resulted, which goes by the name of Citizens for Change on Asylum Seekers (CCAS), now includes Ian McPhee on its consultants committee, the man who served as Fraser’s Minister for Immigration from 1979 to 1982. Former West Australian Premier Carmen Lawrence is a member, and it’s also found support among a significant number of medical and health professionals including former Immigration detention worker turned whistleblower, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran.

De Crespigny admits CCAS has not found an overwhelmingly sympathetic ear within Labor, especially from Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles, who so far has not met with the group.

After failing to convince Labor to reject the Coalition’s policy of boat turnbacks at its national conference in July, CCAS has now implored the party to vote in favour of a motion challenging offshore detention, spearheaded by Fremantle MP Melissa Parke.

Labor Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke.
Labor Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke.

The motion that will go before Labor’s caucus today asks the party to “…call upon the government to immediately ensure the conditions of offshore detention meet with human rights standards and independent oversight or, if the government is unable or unwilling to implement these standards, to close the centres on Manus Island and Nauru forthwith.”

New Matilda understands the motion will be seconded by NSW MP Jill Hall, and backed by a small group including Anna Burke, Claire Moore, and Lisa Singh.

The group yesterday drew praise from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, who dubbed the quintet “brave”, and encouraged their colleagues to back the motion.

Despite those calls the motion is still expected to fail, as a similar attempt did in 2014.

The renewed effort to spark a shift within Labor on refugee policy comes after Australia faced a number of questions over its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers at the UN overnight.

The hearing, which included an appearance by Howard-era Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, was part of Australia’s Universal Periodic Review, during which the UN Human Rights Council questions nations over their record.

Of the 29 questions listed in advance of the review by other states, five related to asylum seekers, outnumbered only by the seven questions on ‘Indigenous issues’.

De Crespigny said Australia’s treatment of refugees had not only embarrassed the country overseas, but changed the character of the nation.

“I don’t think human beings can keep punishing other human beings without it changing you as a person,” she said.

Acknowledging the composition of the MPs understood to be backing Parke’s motion, she noted it had been easier to gain appointments with women in the party than their male counterparts.

“I just found an incredible difference,” she said. “The women were going ‘yes, let’s talk about this.’”

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The undersigned support the motion put to the ALP Caucus on November 10th 2015 for the closure of the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.



Allan Asher, Lawyer, Former Commonwealth Ombudsman

Julian Burnside AO, QC, Sydney Peace Prize Barrister, Advocate

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

Robin de Crespigny, Human Rights Award for Literature CCAS Founder, Author, Filmmaker

Bill Ethell, Former National President of the BWIU, Skipper of the Pacific Peacemaker

Jana Favero, Asylum Resource Centre

Erika Feller, Former Assistant High Commissioner UNHCR

Phil Glendenning, President of the Refugee Council and Director of the Edmund Rice Centre

Janet Holmes à Court AC, FAHA, National Living Treasure Business Executive, Arts Patron

Ged Kearney, President ACTU

Ian McPhee AO, Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs 1979-82

Shane Prince, Barrister, Advocate

Jim Brown, CCAS Campaign Coordinator

Henrietta de Crespigny, CCAS Research Coordinator



Phillip Adams, FAHA Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Broadcaster

Dr. Robert Adler, MBBS, PhD, M.Crim (For. Psych.), FRACP, FRANZCP, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Noel Ancell OAM, Music Director

Neil Armfield AO, Theatre, Opera & Screen Director

Martin Armiger, Musician, Composer, Head of Screen Music AFTRS

Gillian Armstrong AM, AACTA Award Film Director

Dr. Michael S. Armstrong, MB, BS, MD, M.Psychotherapy, DPM., FIA.Psych., FRC.Psych. Psychiatrist

David Arnault, Novelist, a poet and a publisher

Peter Arndt, Executive Officer, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Brisbane

Sister Brigid Arthur, Vice-chair, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce. Co-ordinator, Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.

Kate Atkinson, Actor, co-founder of Actors for Refugees, Patron of Sanctuary Foundation

Jeannie Baker, Artist, Author

Greg Barns, Barrister, former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Writer

John Bell AO, OBE, Bell Shakespeare

Sara Bennett, Film Editor (retired), Head of Editing Dept. at Australian Film, Television and Radio School 1994-2000

Reverend Rod Benson, Chair, Baptist Social Issues Committee

Emeritus Prof. Sidney Bloch, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne

Erica Booker, DCSM, Dip. Spec. Mus. Edn., FCSME, LmusA Pianist, Educator

Dr. Anne Boyd AM, Composer

Russell Boyd, ACS ASC, Academy Award for Cinematography, Director of Photography

Anna Broinowski, Filmmaker, Writer

Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement Author

Ann Brown, Former Financial Manager Belvoir Street Theatre

Darleen Bungey, Author

Prof. David Burgner, BSc(Hons), MB, ChB, MRCP, MRCPCH, DTM&H, FRACP, PhD University of Melbourne, Paediatrician

Pastor David Busch, Uniting Church, Coordinator of Redlands for Refugees (Brisbane)

Peter Carey AO, FRSL, Man Booker Prize, Miles Franklin Award Author

Penny Carl-Nelson, Film Producer, Film Finance

Prof. Stephen Castles, Research Chair in Sociology; Member of the Advisory Committee of the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales

Dr. Chris Caton, Chief Economist, BT Financial Group

The Very Reverend Dr. Peter Catt, Dean, St. John’s Cathedral Brisbane. Chair, Australian Churches Refuge Taskforce

Dr. David Champion, MS, BS, MD, FRA, Rheumatologist

Greg Champion, Singer, Songwriter

Ian Chappell, Former Captain Australian Cricket Team, Commentator and Sports Journalist

Fr. George Charles, Anglican Priest

Barbara A Chobocky, Filmmaker

Reverend Eira Clapton, Chair, CARD, Uniting Church Western Australia

Commissioner James Condon, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army, Australia Eastern Territory

Dr Andrew Court, MBBS, FRACP, FRANZCP, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Geoffrey Cousins AM, President Australian Consevation Foundation, Business Executive, Author

Mike Coward, Senior cricket writer, commentator and author

Lynne Crilley pbvm, Justice Coordinator Presentation Sisters

Marion Crooke, Victorian Women’s Trust

Mary Crooks OA, Centenary Medal Executive Director Victorian Women’s Trust

Major Sandy Crowdon, Social Justice Secretary, Salvation Army

Chris Cull, Human Rights Advocate

Pamela Curr, Refugee and Detention Rights Advocate, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Prof. Ann Curthoys, Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney; Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Burkhard Dallwitz, Australian Screen Music Award Screen Composer

Dur-e Dara OAM, Philanthropist, Businesswoman, Restaurateur, Victorian Women’s Trust

Stuart Davey, Director Glebe Justice Centre

Justine Davis, BLegS, MA, MIK, JP
Coordinator DASSAN (Darwin Asylum Seekers Support and Advocacy Network)

Julian Day, Composer, Artist

Brett Dean, Grawemeyer Award, Paul Lowen Prize, Australian Art Music Award Composer

Carol Dettmann, Education

Anne Deveson AO, Hon.D Litt ( NSW), UN Special Gold Citations Media Peace Prize Author, Broadcaster, Community Health, Filmmaker

Ceridwen Dovey, Author

Reverend Dean Drayton, Past President, Uniting Church Australia

Belinda Duarte, ALF Woman of the Year 2013 Director, Korin Gamadji Institute

Irina Dunn, Former Senator for NSW in the Australian Parliament; Arts Administrator

Dr. Ross Edwards AM, Australian Art Music Award Composer

Prof. Elizabeth Elliott AM, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health The Children’s Hospital, Westmead

Dr. June Factor, Convenor, Befriend a Child in Detention Project ; Co-editor, International Journal of Play, Honorary Senior Fellow School of Historical & Philosophical Studies University of Melbourne

Warren Fahey AM, Centenary Medal, Don Banks Award for Services to Music
Cultural historian, author and performer, Don Banks Music Award for lifetime service to music

Philip Feinstein, Music For Refugees

Steven Fisher, Restaurateur, Hospitality Concept Professional

Pat Fiske, Filmmaker

Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO, Former Ambassador to China; formerly Chair, Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies, Chair, Asian Studies Council, Chair, Asia-Australia Institute

Dr. Caroline Fleay, Senior Lecturer, Human Rights Education, Curtin University

Dr. Andrew Ford, Paul Lowin Prize, Albert H. Maggs Composition Award, Australian Art Music Award Composer

Hester Fraser – GOLDHEIST, Composer, Singer, Musician, The Hon. Mr. Fraser’s Granddaughter

Rod Freedman, Filmmaker

Anna Funder, WA Premier’s Prize, Miles Franklin Award, Samuel Johnson Prize Author

Chris Fussell, Artist

Frances Fussell, Artist

Alistair Gee, Executive Director, Act for Peace

Lisa Gerrard, Golden Globe Award, Australian Screen Music Award, Composer, Vocalist

Simon Gilby, Artist

Richard Gill OAM, Centenary Medal Conductor, Music Educator

George Gittoes AM, Sydney Peace Prize, Centenary Medal, Hon.Litt.D Artist, Filmmaker

Tim Gooden, Secretary Geelong Trades Hall

Renee Goossens, Former SBSTV editor, Arts Advocate

Christopher Gordon, Centenary Medal, AACTA Award Composer

Prof. Lyn Gorman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Charles Sturt University (retired)

Emeritus Prof. Kerry Goulston AO, MD, FRACP Sydney University, Sydney Medical School

Diane Grady AM, BA, MA, MBA, FAICD Business Executive

Iain Grandage, Five Helpman Awards
Composer, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Western Australia

Kevin Greenhatch, B.Arch, ARAIA Architect

Dr. Kate Grenville, FAHA, Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, NSW Premier’s Literary Award Author

Guy Gross, Australian Screen Music Award Composer, Film Producer

Sandra Gross, Film Producer

The late Yoram Gross, Film Director, Film Producer

Mac Gudgeon, AACTA Award Screenwriter

Dr. Hasantha Gunasekera, MBBS, DCH, MIPH (Hons), FRACP, PhD Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital

Marilyn Hadfield, Psychologist

Bruce Haigh, Political Commentator and retired Diplomat

Graeme Harris, Chair of Church Council, Geelong City Parish of Uniting Church in Australia

Kaye Harrison, Filmmaker

Dr. Lisa Hartley, Lecturer, Centre for Human Rights Education, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University

Jo Hawke, Human Rights Advocate

Gerard Hayes, NSW Secretary and National Assistant Secretary Health Services Union

Rachel Healey, Co-Artistic Director Adelaide Arts Festival

Rev. John Henderson, Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia

Peter Hennessy, Managing Director of St Francis Social Services

Dr. Daphne Hewson, Psychologist

Missy Higgins, Singer, Songwriter

Rowland Hill

Chief Administrator of The Thomas Foundation

David Hirschfelder, Academy Award nominee, BAFTA Award, AACTA Award Screen Composer

Dorothy Hoddinott AO, FACE, Hon. DlDLitt. Australian Human Rights Medalist
Pro-Chancellor and Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney, Principal Holroyd High School

Tony Horwitz, Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting Journalist, Writer

The Right Reverend Philip Huggins, Bishop of North West Region, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Chair of the Anglican Church of Australia’s General Synod Working Group on Refugee & Asylum Seeker issues

Prof. David Isaacs, MBBChir, MD, FRACP, FRCPCH
Clinical Professor in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Sydney

Mark Isaacs, Author

Linda Jaivin, Author

Reverend John Jegasothy, Uniting Church Australia

Alan John, Composer

Assoc. Prof. Alyson Kakakios OAM, MB, BS, FRACP University of Sydney, Paediatrician

Andrew Kaldor AM, Founder Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Business Executive, Philanthropist

Renata Kaldor AO, Centenary Medal
Founder Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Business Executive, Philanthropist

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, CEO and Founder Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Thomas Keneally AO, Man Booker Prize, Miles Franklin Award, Prime Minister’s Literary Award Author, Playwright

Adjunct Assoc. Prof. Henry Kilham, MB, BS, Grad Dip Bioethics, FRACP University of Sydney, Paediatrician

Julia King AM, NOM (France) Business Executive

Captain Nesan Kistan, Multicutural Co-ordinator, Salvation Army

Ian Kortlang, Advisory Board of the Kaldor Centre

Michelle de Kretser, FAHA, Miles Franklin Award Author

Carolyn Landon, Author

Anne Lane pbvm, Convenor, Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace (CCJP)

Benjamin Law, Freelance Writer

Hon. Prof. Carmen Lawrence, Former Premier of WA, Former Federal Minister for Health and Human Services, Former Federal President of the ALP

Carmen Lazar, Assyrian Resource Centre, Assyrian Church

Jeannie Lewis, Singer

David Leser, Walkley Award Author, Feature Writer, Interviewer, Theatrical Agent and Producer (retired), Writer

Hilary Linstead Wendy Lobwein, Co-ordinator Witness Support Unit, United Nations Khmer Rougr Trials, Cambodia

Helen Lockwood, Director, Lutheran Community Care, South Australia

Antony Loewenstein, Independent journalist, Guardian columnist, Author

Mrs Sue Longmore OAM, Community Arts, Refugee Advocate, Queenscliff RAR

Helen Lynch AM, Centenary Medal Company Director, Finance, Arts

Paul Mac, Musician, Producer, DJ, Human

Marion Macdonald, Journalist

Dee Madigan, Creative Director Madigan Communications, Author, Political Commentator

Emily Maguire, CEO Domestic Violence Resource Centre

Tracy Mann, AACTA Award Actor

Miriam Margolyes O.B.E., Hon.Litt.D, BAFTA Award Actor

Sieneke Martin, Commissioner, Act for Peace

Adrian Mauriks, Sculptor

Alanna Maycock, Refugee Coordinator, TB Surveillance & Infection Control, Microbiology

Therese McCarthy, Barrister

Fiona McCormack, CEO Domestic Violence Victoria

Margot McDonald, Film Producer

Ross McGregor, Theatre Director, Writer

Marshall McGuire, Harpist, Artistic Director

Jeannette McHugh, Member of the Australian Parliament 1983-1996

Ian McHutchison OAM, Director

Jarrod McKenna, National Director of Common Grace

Cameron McLeod, General Manager North Melbourne Football Club

Stuart McMillan, President Uniting Church of Australia

John Menadue AO, Former Sec. Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs,
Sec. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ambassador to Japan and CEO Qantas

Kate Miller-Heidke, Singer, Composer

Reverend Dr. Lucy Morris, CEP Baptstcare

Marty Morrison, Great Lakes Rural Australians for Refugees (GLRAR)

Graeme Murphy AO, National Living Treasure Choreographer

Peta Murray, Centenary Medal, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama Playwright, Community Artist

Joanna Murray-Smith, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Award Playright, Author, Screenwriter

Cindy Nancarrow, Writer and teacher

Prof. Louise Newman AM, Director Centre For Women’s Health

Michael Nolan, Director Wesley Centre Geelong

Emeritus Prof. Kim Oates AM, University of Sydney, Paediatrician

Dr. Heather O’Connor OAM, Education, Author

Christine Olsen, Screenwriter, Film Producer, MD, DSc, MHP, FRACP, FRCP, FAFPHM

Patricia O’Shane AM, National Living Treasure, LL.D (hc), LL.B., LL.M., Solicitor & Barrister (NSW)

Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Author, Poet

Emeritus Prof. John Painter AM, Musician, Former Director Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Former Director ANU School of Music

The Hon. George Palmer AM, QC
Composer, Former Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW

Leonie Palmer-Fisher, Hospitality Concept Professional, Restaurateur, Writer

Antony Partos, AACTA Award, Australian Screen Music Award Screen Composer

Anne Paul, Manager Victorian Women’s Trust

Margaret Pomeranz AM, Film Critic, Television Producer, The Movie Show

Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director UnitingJustice Australia, Uniting Church in Australia

Nicholas Poynder, Barrister

Prof. Noel Preston AM, Th D.
Griffith University retired, Uniting Church minister retired

Angela Punch McGregor, AACTA Award Actor, Educator

Jill Reichstein OAM, Philanthropist, Chair Reichstein Foundation

Robert Richter QC, Barrister

Reverend Mark Riessen, Mission Co-ordinator, Churches of Christ, South Australia & Northern Territory

Silvio Rivier, Producer/Presenter SBS TV (retired)

Margret RoadKnight, Singer

Sr. Libby Rogerson ibvm, Coordinator Loreto Sisters Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation

Emeritus Prof. John Rosenberg, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Relations) La Trobe University

Richard Roxburgh, AACTA Award, Logie Award, Actor

Dr. Anna Rubbo, Life Fellow Australian Institute of Architects Architect, Academic

Ellery Ryan, ACS, AACTA Award Director of Photography

Dr. John-Paul Sanggaran, MBBS, M.H.Med, B.H.Sc; Former IHMS Medical Officer

Jan Sardi, Acadamy Award nominee, AACTA Award Screenwriter

Anne Schofield, Antiques Specialist

Tess Schofield, Costume Designer

Anna Schwartz, Anna Schwartz Gallery

Morry Schwartz AM, Chairman, Schwartz Media Pty Ltd

Jane Scott, Acadamy Award nominee, AACTA Award Film Producer

Stephen Sewell, AACTA Award, Vic. Premier’s Literary Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Award Writer, Playwright, Screenwriter, Screen Director

Dr. Sandra Short, Cosmetic Dentist

Cezary Skubiszewski, Australian Screen Music Award, AACTA Award Screen Composer

Dr Peter Slezak, Associate Professor in Philosophy, University of New South Wales

Emeritus Prof. Charles Sowerwine, FAHA University of Melbourne

Tracey Spicer, Newsreader, Journalist

Dr. Paul Stanhope, Sidney Myer Creative Fellow, Toru Takemitsu Prize, Australian Art Music Award Composer

Rt. Rev. John Stead, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Willochra

Elizabeth Stone, Associate General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia

David Stratton AO, Centenary Medal, Film Critic, The Movie Show

Simon Tedeschi, Musician

David Thomas OAM, Founder, The Thomas Foundation

Jack Thompson AM, Ph.D. Actor

Mrs. Jan Trengove OAM, Uniting Church, Community

Toby Truslove, Actor

Sophia Turkiewicz, Film Director

Reverend Canon Richard Tutin, General Secretary, Queensland Churches Together

Satu Vänskä, Violinist

Jackie VanVugt, Health Sector Communications Executive

Janet Vernon AM, Associate Choreographer

Carl Vine AO, Don Banks Music Award, Australian Art Music Award, Australian Screen Music Award Composer

Anna Volska, Actor

John Walker, Corporate Executive

Lyn Walker, Director Lyn Walker & Associates Consulting, Former Executive Manager VicHealth

Virginia Walker OAM, Chairperson Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation

Storry Walton, Filmmaker, Author, Former Director of the Australian Film Television and Radio School

Judy Watson, Visual Artist

Dr. Nigel Westlake, Paul Lowenstein Award, ARIA Award, Australian Screen Music Award Composer

Kim Williams AM, Media Executive

David Williamson AO, Playwright, Screenwriter

Felix Williamson, Actor, Theatre Producer

Kristin Williamson, Journalist, Novelist, Biographer, Screenwriter

Matt Williamson, General Manager AKA Australia, Former CEO Colmar Brunton

Rory Williamson, Actor

Tim Winton, Miles Franklin Award, NSW Premiere’s Literary Award, Qld Premier’s Literary Award Author

Caroline Wood, Director Margaret River Press (WA)

John Wood, Director Margaret River Press (WA)

Adam Worling, Adam Worling Public Relations

Reverend Meewon Yang, Baptist Union of Victoria

Caitlin Yeo, AACTA Award, Australian Screen Music Award Composer

Jeswynn Yogaratnam, Chair NT Council for Human Rights Education, NT IHL Committee

Arnold Zable, Author

Jonathan Zwartz, Composer, Musician

Dr. David Zyngier, ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Senior Lecturer in Curriculum & Pedagogy. Education Faculty Monash University

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Max Chalmers

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.