Friday May 26 2006 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"The findings of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee Inquiry into the provisions of the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 - the Bill we at Project SafeCom call the "Ban The Boatpeople Bill" should already become abundantly clear, going by the 118 submissions listed on the Committee website," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning, at the start of the Committee Inquiries.
"With the exception of a hurried submission by the Department of Immigration, going to great lengths to "defend the indefensible" - that the Bill conforms with the UN Refugee Convention - most of the submissions agree that the Bill is a shocking indictment on Australia's attitude to the UN Convention."
"Regrettably it is unlikely that the government will take advice from the work done by the Australian community and the Senate" "but it seems likely that the findings will be ignored by most MP's, with for example Liberal backbencher Bruce Baird MP already telling advocates that 'things will be allright if the Minister does the right thing'."
NOTE: the submission list is here:
"Bluntly speaking," the group's spokesman Jack H Smit said, "Australia intends to ban all boat arrivals forever from reaching Australia, or settling in Australia, even if they are found to be genuine refugees."
"The UN Refugee Convention itself is the direct result of the shocking treatment of boatpeople during the Second World War, and with this Bill, the concept of which appears to have originated directly from the hand of the Prime Minister John Howard, Australia intends to complete its undermining of that Convention with the intended passing of this Bill."
"Further, the Bill intends to make the government into "people traffickers" - in the words of Jesuit Lawyer Father Frank Brennan, by carting people away from Australia for thousands of miles to Nauru, while independent scrutiny from human rights lawyers will be out-of-bounds, as will visits and mercy missions from refugee advocates and the thousands of "citizen workers" who are 'standing up for refugees' since the Tampa drama created one of Australia's most potent lobby groups since the Vietnam War."
"Regrettably, John Howard has failed in his duty to inform Australians about Australia's obligations under the Refugee Convention: he has never told us about the Struma, filled with 760 Jews (103 of them babies and children), bombed by Turkey outside the Ankara harbour with "silent permission" of the British; he has failed to tell Australians about the St Louis, the boat that was forced back to Nazi Germany because countries would not give it sanctuary. He has failed to tell Australians about this, because this treatment is exactly the one he would prefer to become established in Australia."
"The government under John Howard represents a scandalous indictment on Australia's attitude to International Conventions. Just this week the Prime Minister had a taste of how the International community regards him over the treatment of refugees, when he visited Ireland, the country from which the First Wave of Boatpeople originated, when many MP's boycotted his visit to Parliament by absenting themselves over Australia's treatment of refugees."
"Australia, including its current prosperity, was created by boat arrivals. It seems that in dark recesses of the Prime Minister's mind, the pride over that past and present has been replaced by a dark, stubborn and manipulative reversal of the secret shame of that convict past, in which he once again seeks to manipulate the mind of Australians."
"In the context of the United Nations expecting 50 million Climate Refugees to be on the move in the next four decades, Australia needs to undergo a massive change of mind to become part of the process of Globalisation. For that, it seems, the scandals of the Howard government need to even further escalate, so governments and citizens alike can be shamed. It seems that last years shameful reports and stories of the Immigration Department following the Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon debacles have made no difference at all to our attitude," Mr Smit concluded.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]