Scott Morrison manipulates UNHCR information in Lowy Institute Speech

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Scott Morrison manipulates UNHCR information in Lowy Institute Speech

Media Release
Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"If reports by Fairfax Press Gallery Reporter Phillip Coorey, who apparently had early access to today's opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison's Lowy Institute speech (see reprint below) are any indication, then Morrison will go on the record today to manipulatively reconstruct statements by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in order to put the UN Refugee Agency in front of his own political cart," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"It was not UNHCR that peddled the notion that asylum seekers attempting to find safety in Australia under the UN terms were "forum shoppers", but John Howard's Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, assisted by manipulative documents distributed and prepared by the Immigration Department throughout the Australian Parliament during 1999 Parliamentary immigration debates," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"I extensively deal with this manipulation by Ruddock, the Immigration Department and others in my university thesis [1]," Mr Smit said. "Minister Ruddock told anyone who wanted to listen that in Afghanistan "whole villages" were "packing up", that they were forum shoppers who bypassed the world's UN asylum system. In this manipulative construction of parliamentary rhetoric, Ruddock and other Liberal politicians who spoke up during the debates suggested that asylum seekers fleeing Saddam Hussain and the Taliban - first taking to boats to reach Australia in 1998-99 - were coming here because Australia was the "land of milk and honey". Ruddock suggested they came here because of free health and dental care in detention centres and because we had "Pert 2-in-1 Shampoo" they could wash their hair with while in detention."

[1] Ref:

Mr Morrison does not leave it there, but according to the Fairfax report he will brazenly continue to suggest that asylum seekers are not just "forum shoppers" but also "guilty" of so-called "secondary movement" in our region. Manipulative, Mr Morrison will omit mention of a worldwide UNHCR Bulletin issued in the week before the famous 2001 "Tampa Election" [2], in which the Refugee Agency unambiguously states that asylum seekers should NOT be punished for temporarily residing in transit countries. In issuing this Bulletin, UNHCR told all countries in the world, including Australia, that the original meaning of "secondary movements" as outlined in the UN Refugee Convention was no longer relevant with new modes of transport emerging and a new pattern of refugee outflows and through-flows having established.

[2] Ref:

"Scott Morrison is to be condemned for his manipulative speech at the Lowy Institute. Just like Abbott, Scott Morrison is building on the "glory" of John Howard and Philip Ruddock. A future Tony Abbott government will be a "blast of the past". Abbott and Morrison do not have original conceptual analysis underpinning their policies. Abbott the Howardist and Morrison the Ruddock Copycat are attempting to bring another Howard government into Australia - a government that uses vilification of asylum seekers for political purposes."

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Coalition confirms its total opposition to Malaysia plan

The Age
August 7, 2012
Phillip Coorey

THE federal government's chances of breaking the policy impasse over asylum seekers are remote, with the opposition to reaffirm today its own position and insist that a regional solution be based on deterrence, not setting up a regional processing centre.

The opposition will not support the government's Malaysia plan, a regional solution designed as a deterrent, claiming it is bad policy.

After Parliament failed six weeks ago to agree on a policy to try to stem the record arrivals of asylum seekers by boat, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, asked three eminent Australians to spend the winter break consulting all parties and to report to Parliament, before it resumed, on a preferred policy.

The group has prepared a range of options containing the various policy ideas espoused by Labor, the Greens and the Coalition. It then cites the options it believes will be the most effective and it is understood it favours a hardline approach, such as the Malaysia plan.

Parliament resumes next Tuesday and federal cabinet is scheduled to consider the report on Monday. With the Greens implacably opposed to sending asylum seekers offshore, the government will try to pressure the Coalition.

It is prepared to send asylum seekers to Nauru for processing if the Coalition allows it to send back to Malaysia 800 asylum seekers as a deterrent, an option the Immigration Department says is drastic but necessary if the boats are to be slowed or stopped.

But in a speech today to the Lowy Institute, the opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, will draw a line under the Coalition's policy, which involves Nauru, temporary protection visas and using the navy to turn boats around.

While all parties agree that ultimately the best solution is a regional one, Mr Morrison will also argue that this should not entail setting up a regional processing centre.

''The Coalition believes that Labor's internationalist regional processing approach runs the risk of creating a regional asylum magnet that will only further encourage secondary movement and undermine the integrity of existing regional resettlement programs, of which Australia is the primary participant,'' an extract of his speech says.

The Bali process, a regional dialogue established under the Howard government to deal with asylum seekers, should be refocused on deterrence, he will say.

He will accuse the government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of trying to recast the process ''to focus on a regional processing agenda tied to resettlement opportunities, regardless of regional origin''.

''Today's asylum seekers are secondary movers from Central Asia engaging in what the UNHCR refers to as 'forum shopping','' he will say.

Regional deterrence is as much about stopping planes from Malaysia arriving in Indonesia as it is about stopping the boats then coming to Australia, but the Coalition will never support the Malaysia plan because it is flawed, he will say.

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