Retired judge offers to swap places with refugee being held in ‘appalling’ camps

A retired judge has offered to swap places with a refugee held at an offshore detention centre. Jim Macken wants to spend the rest of his life on Manus or Nauru Island in exchange for a refugee being allowed to settle in Australia. The 88-year-old former justice of the industrial court of New South Wales, union official and member of the Order of Australia, has written to immigration minister Peter Dutton, urging a “body swap” with a refugee. He said his idea “could be considered too novel for government” but insisted it was “perfectly possible”.

I can no longer remain silent as innocent men, women and children are being held in appalling circumstances on Manus Island and Nauru.

Jim Macken

Australia has faced widespread criticism over conditions in the camps, both of which are run by private companies and where hundreds of refugees are being held. Mr Macken said he was not seeking publicity for the swap as it could happen out of the spotlight. He said the Australian government, which has opened the camps to deter other asylum-seekers, was “essentially treating refugees in these camps as human shields and this is utterly immoral”. The judge offered to relinquish his citizenship if necessary, saying: “I’ve got nothing to lose. If it gets just one refugee off one of those islands, and gives them a chance at a life in Australia, I’m prepared to do it.”

It is even worse that they are being held in these dangerous and inhospitable conditions in order to ensure no other asylum seekers and refugees attempt to come to Australia for protection.

Jim Macken