Visiting writers condemn Festival Of Dangerous Ideas co-curator over links to refugee policy

Naomi Klein is a writer, activist and outspoken critic of corporate capitalism.

Naomi Klein is a writer, activist and outspoken critic of corporate capitalism. Photo: AFR

Five of the key writers speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House this weekend have signed a joint statement denouncing Australia's asylum seeker policies and distancing themselves from the views of one of the event's key organisers. 

The statement, signed by high-profile journalists Tariq Ali, Laurie Penny, Naomi Klein, Jon Ronson and Johann Hari, took aim at the festival's co-curator, the Ethics Centre, for the involvement of one of its board members, retired Major General Andrew James Molan, in the "unjust treatment of asylum seekers in Australian-controlled detention centres".

Molan was one of the architects of the government's Operation Sovereign Borders asylum-seeker policy, which the visiting writers describe as a "draconian program relying on the remote island detention centres condemned as cruel and inhumane by multiple respected human rights organisations".

Laurie Penny is a feminist writer and socialist activist.

Laurie Penny is a feminist writer and socialist activist.

"As festival speakers, we wish to separate ourselves – in the strongest possible terms – from Molan's views and policies," the statement said.

Advertisement

They were also angered by Molan's suggestion the model should be used in Europe.

"Australia's cruel practices towards migrants are wholly unacceptable, and they most certainly should not be exported to Europe, where they would make an already intolerable moral crisis far worse."

Jim Molan is the former special envoy for operation sovereign borders.

Jim Molan is the former special envoy for operation sovereign borders.

The executive director of the Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff, has stood by Molan, telling New Matilda he was was not involved in the development of the centre's policy positions. He also said he did not share Molan's views on the issue.