The Australian refugee detention regime is on the brink

Let them Stay

After years of frustration, the bipartisan Australian policy of offshore detention of asylum seekers is on the brink. The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court ruled the Australian-funded Manus centre illegal.1 The PNG Government bluntly told Australia to shut it down.2 Feeling the pressure, the camps' new operator Ferrovial is now saying it has no "future" in the camps.3 If we can convince Ferrovial to walk away right now, it could force our government's hand. And the growing calls across Australia to #BringThemHere to safety could be realised.


Luckily, we have the perfect opportunity to do just that. Ferrovial depends on an unblemished reputation for its large government contracts and big operations across Europe. Running an illegal detention camp could be very bad for business.

On Wednesday, my colleague Matt and I will be meeting with Ferrovial to deliver that message before the company's Annual General Meeting. But to prove it to them, we need a huge social media outcry behind us.

We've learned that some of the most important Ferrovial investors and contracts are in Italy. So just imagine the pressure on Ferrovial when its brand is suddenly trending for all the wrong reasons, thanks to thousands of Australians online talking about its involvement in the camps … in Italian.

Click here to tweet about Ferrovial in Italian.

(The tweet basically says ".@ferrovial must guarantee it will not operate illegal refugee detention camps in Pacific Islands!")

Let's be clear about something: this is a huge win for people power. Together, we have worked for months to break the
corporate complicity in the abuses of the offshore camps – and it's working.

Just this week, GetUp members funded an expert-led trip to Europe to speak directly to Ferrovial's investors and financiers in the lead-up to Ferrovial buying Broadspectrum, and taking over the camps. And they listened to us.

One financier we spoke to even said any business association with the offshore camps and their gross human rights violations would be a commercial disaster – a message you can be sure got back to Ferrovial HQ.

Ferrovial is already planning to walk away from the camps, and that's great. But what's needed is urgent, decisive action – a fact made particularly and horrifically clear this week, as we mourn the tragic death of Omid, a young man who had been on Nauru for three years and
set himself on fire in desperation.4

Those still in the camps must be brought to safety in Australia immediately – and Ferrovial can help make that happen, by walking away from the camps right now. If offshore detention won't end by will, let it end by necessity. Let's leave the government with no willing host nation, no willing camp contractor – and no option but to #BringThemHere.

Can you help prove to Ferrovial that they must walk away from the camps immediately?

Click here to tweet Ferrovial in Italian.

Don't have twitter?
Click here to write on Ferrovial's Facebook page (in English is fine).

Not on any social media? No worries!
Click here to send them an email.

Thank you for all that you're doing for people seeking asylum. It's incredible, and it's working.

Shen, Matthew and Aurora for the GetUp team

[1] 'PNG's Supreme Court rules detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal', ABC News, 26 April 2016
[2] 'Manus Island detention centre to close, PNG Prime Minister says following court bombshell', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2016
[3] 'Ferrovial reaches 59% of Broadspectrum', Ferrovial, Press release 29 April 2016
[4] 'Refugee who set himself alight on Nauru dies in hospital', The Guardian, 29 April 2016

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations.

Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.