My letter to our Prime Minister

23rd March 2017

Mr. Malcom Turnbull, MP.



Dear Mr. Turnbull,

I turn to you, believing you to be not devoid of compassion and intelligence and integrity.  I understand the logic of wishing to avoid a flood of uninvited emigrants to our shores. Given current world conditions, there is a real fear of being overwhelmed.

But having had the experience of the second world war in North Africa and France as a child, and then the warm welcome our family received in Australia in 1951, my heart has always been on the side of refugees; our family with time, produced two Doctors (one highly regarded international specialist) and two High School teachers.  We came as free migrants.

I worked with the Vietnamese in the 80s, when there was a bi partisan welcome to protect them from the upheavals in South East Asia.  I also have worked on and off as a volunteer, more than 20 years in  PNG, both in a remote place (Gulf Province, Mountains where there is still no road) and Port Moresby.

At the time the so called Pacific Solution was born, I was living in Port Moresby, and I wrote a horrified letter to Mr Rudd which received no reply.  Much and all as I love PNG and its people,  I  knew it could not work, for reasons I outlined and I take the liberty of forwarding that letter.  I beg you to read it; Sir, I cannot imagine the hours you keep in your current position, but this is a crucial issue, for the refugees, and for our international good name.  We are currently preparing quite a number of people who will be likely to have many mental issues from the traumas endured both before they came, and while  under our control.  And our solution is to deliver them to the tender mercies of the current American administration!!  I know personally some of the difficulties for the poor in USA, as I have family who currently live and work there, and I have seen the poor in the streets of New York.

Mr. Turnbull, if everyone acted as we do, how would people have moved out of Aleppo, or Syria at all, or Sierra Leone during the civil war when 800,000 found refuge in tiny Guinea?  How would  people have managed in the 2nd world war, and currently the war and famine in Sudan, not to mention other horrors. With regards to war, it seems humans are incorrigible, and the vulnerable are left defenceless.  You would know better than I the current estimated numbers of refugees, in the world.  The number is horrific, and of course we cannot mend that gigantic sickness of the world, but…

Can we not call it a day and bring the 1200 or so who came to our shores out of the nightmare of detention and bring them out into rehabilitation? At least those who are estimated to be refugees…even if our criteria are very questionable given the level of famine currently raging as a direct result of violence…how does one distinguish a refugee from an economic refugee; that point was made by 4 Corners.

Sir, did you have time to see 4 Corners on the ABC on Monday 20th March? I did not think I would ever hear the top brass in the US army and Navy,  come to warn the world, that war is driven, accelerated by shortages of water and food, and these are produced by climate change already happening.  Ten generals and admirals took part.  As young teachers we taught environmental studies 40 years ago…who listened then?  Who listens now?  That programme was the most terrifying I have seen in my 79 years because it was not based on fantasy.  When food is scarce (as it is in many places already), the rich nations and individuals will buy it, and there will be more refugees and overwhelming anguish in various places.

If there is a tiger growling in my backyard it is not trespassing for me to jump the fence into the neighbours’; it is the right to seek refuge according to the United Nations.

I beg of you to start the ball rolling, however difficult and find a humane situation for the people under our care;  by that I mean bring them here.

May God bless your efforts to lead Australia in a just and humane way.


Yours sincerely,


Bernadette Gauthier.