An 88-year-old Aussie former judge has put forward a legitimate offer to “body swap” with a refugee living in detention on either Nauru or Manus

Jim Macken, a former justice of the industrial court of New South Wales, has written to Immigration minister Peter Dutton with his proposal, which he says “could be considered too novel for government” but believes “perfectly possible”.

In the letter, Macken says, 

“I understand this is an unusual request but I offer it in complete sincerity. My reason for making this proposal is simple. I can no longer remain silent as innocent men, women and children are being held in appalling circumstances on Manus Island and Nauru.

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. The Australian government is essentially treating refugees in these camps as human shields and this is utterly immoral. As this is being done in my name I cannot remain silent.

I offer this proposal as a way forward for at least one refugee. This would allow one person currently held on Manus Island or Nauru the right to be an Australian citizen. I would consider it a privilege to live out my final years in either Nauru or Manus Island in his or her stead.”

He offers to give up his Aussie citizenship, and told the Guardian that he has “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.”

Macken said to the Guardian that he sent the letter last month, and has not received a reply from Dutton

He says he isn’t seeking publicity of any kind, and says the exchange would happen without any media involved or any notification to the public. 

A former barrister and union organiser, Macken was a judge on the NSW Industrial Court for 15 years, and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2003. 

He is a lifetime member of the Labor party, but it completely opposed to their support for offshore processing of refugees. He wrote about ‘staying quiet’ about his political membership with the party for this reason for New Matilda in May this year. 

Source: The Guardian

Photo: humanrights.gov.au