"Flexibility in pursuit of the nation's interests must never be allowed to degenerate into expediency."
"There are alternative policies available to Australian governments. They have not taken them because neither party is willing to lift substantially the humanitarian intake... Meanwhile our political leaders continue to demean Australia, to portray us as a narrow, wealthy, selfish community by debates they conduct between themselves. Thinking that this is only an Australian matter of no consequence to anyone else is false. It certainly affects the way other countries view Australia. Our policies set Australia apart from our own region and apart from the world at large. The Australian people deserve much better. Hopefully, one day our politicians will treat the Australian community with respect, instead of the contempt they show with their judgement of Australians."
"Secrecy is completely inadequate for democracy but totally appropriate for tyranny. If the minister will not inform the public, then we are within our rights to assume the worst."
"A strong multicultural Australia that draws strength from its diversity, that debates real issues of importance to ourselves and to common humanity, has contributed so much in the past. It must do so again. The pettiness and meanness of the current debates about asylum seekers and indeed on other issues that are dealt with on a totally partisan basis must be put aside. There is a special obligation on our political leaders to lift themselves off the bottom and take the debate in a different direction - based on fact not hyperbole, based on humanitarian rather than punitive considerations; to rejoin the bipartisanship that will be needed to make meaningful contributions to such complex global challenges. We should also ask ourselves what we as Australians need to do so that politicians will learn to appeal to the best of our natures and cease playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people."
"The debate went on, playing politics with people's lives. To me, that is about as low as you can go."
"Sometimes you can have competing election promises."
"I believe there is a special obligation on Australians who have come or whose parents have come here in the post-war years, to work for and maintain that Australia, because that is the Australia they came to, that is the Australia that received them so warmly and that is the Australia to which they have already contributed so much in so many different ways."
"Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action. "
"Most asylum seekers do get permanent visas, so the earlier they receive the appropriate help, the faster they will become part of the community. They'll get jobs and start paying taxes too. They will see Australia as a nation with a sense of care and concern. That's so important for a cohesive society. It helps build a sense of belonging. And in terms of common decency, it's what should be happening... For God's sake, this is Australia, people should be treated with decency and humanity."
"At the moment people get on boats because they flee terror at home and believe the many years' long wait in UNHCR camps is not a valid option, especially if they have children in their care. After the Vietnam War, Australia took a larger humanitarian intake than at any other period in our history. The Australian community accepted that. They were told why we needed to do it, and why it was the only ethical decent policy that a wealthy advanced country should adopt."
"The great task of statesmanship is to apply past lessons to new situations, to draw correct analogies to understand and act upon present forces, to recognise the need for change.... "
"Many who fled from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union in the postwar years would have had to pay people for some part of their journey which ultimately led them to Australia. What has been forgotten in this debate is that desperate people will go to any lengths to get to a country that they believe to be safe and that they know will give them, and more particularly their children, a future."
"If a need for a sense of independence is important for Australia, there is a need to our politicians in Canberra to start to kill the view that we are a racist nation. At heart, I don't believe the great majority of Australians are racist, but the government has behaved as though we are. The government has really demeaned us, not just the government, but the government and the opposition, the political process. Both sides of the equation have really done Australia an enormous disservice."
"The asylum-seeker debate in Australia is demeaning and miserable. The politicians who participate in it have contempt for the Australian people. They believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that if they appeal to the fearful and mean sides of our nature, they will win support. They are showing that they believe we won't know enough about the world to know that for the most part what they are saying is plainly false. Australia should not seek to avoid its obligations."
"Life wasn't meant to be easy..."
"People die because they find living too painful. "
"Development requires modification and transformation of the environment... the planet's capacity to support its people us being irreversibly reduced by the destruction and degradation of the biosphere and the need to understand the problem and take corrective action is becoming urgent."