Saturday December 15, 2012 8:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Once again, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, the Immigration Department and the Gillard government have colluded in devising a refugee policy so brazen in its design, that we need to alert reporters of its underlying Sleight of Hand principles," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said today.
"The announcement of a family reunion sponsorship sounds all very nice, but by giving community organisations, NGOs and churches the opportunities the option of "buying family reunion tickets", the government manipulates itself out of its own clearly defined obligation under the terms of the United Nations Refugee Convention, that compels Australia in ALL cases to enable full family reunion for assessed ad approved asylum seekers (including those arriving by boat) and accepted refugees. This is the first level of manipulation of unsuspecting voters, representing a userism of the good-hearted nature and conscientious goodwill amongst community groups," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Second, the government is manipulatively undermining its promise to lift Australia's annual refugee intake from 13,750 to 20,000 by deducting these "purchased refugees" from its annual intake quota."
"Third, by limiting the pilot program to 500 only, Chris Bowen opportunistically rips apart the connection between UN refugee family reunion rights for all and his arbitrary and Kafkaesque number of 500. Should the rest of our refugees be bereft of these rights, and should they allowed to slowly go mad because they cannot have their family around them?"
"The Gillard government should be slammed for using refugees to prop up its looming budget defict. In a historic first, Chris Bowen has stooped so low as to attempt the fill up the Treasury Chest from the collection plates of churches and from the superannuation accounts of many older Australians who will jump to the rescue of refugees they see suffer in the community."
"Finally, Chris Bowen should be confronted by Australia's Fourth Estate, slammed by churches and condemned by the community - and all Australians should know - that one payment of $20,000 to reunite one refugee with his or her family (yes, this often represents the payment for seeing his or her children, siblings or parents) will be spent on keeping one single refugee locked up in Nauru for less than two weeks."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]