Refugee advocacy group issues major parties' Refugee Report Card

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Refugee advocacy group issues major parties' Refugee Report Card

Media Release
Wednesday November 3, 2007 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"Australia's largest asylum seeker support centre, Melbourne's Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), has today released its "election report card" a handy how-to-vote card for the four primary parties represented in Federal Parliament, and while the ALP looks much better in its treatment of asylum seekers than the Coalition government, which gets a wholesome and complete 'fail' on all seven criteria listed by the organisation, Labor just gets a "C minus", failing to instill unconditional confidence in the area of work rights, health care and income support, while no intention has been shown by Labor to end the scourge of mandatory detention," WA Human Rights group Project Safecom said this morning.

• • The Report Card is stored as a JPEG image on the Project SafeCom website at http://www.safecom.org.au/images/asrc-report-card2007.jpg

"The ALP has also not shown any independent plans to increase Australia's rather minuscule Annual Refugee Intake, has not stated any plans to abandon the horrific maximum security refugee prison on Christmas Island or comply with the clause of the UN Refugee Convention to not cause or maintain family separation," Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"The ASRC's report card is erroneous in its criterion to "Restore the Australian Migration Zone", in that, while Labor will abandon the 4,600 island strong Coalition Government Excision Zone, it will, by stated policy as confirmed at the April 2007 Darling Harbour National Policy Conference, replace this Excision Zone with its own 'mini' excision plans, maintaining a 'forbidden zone' for refugees arriving on Christmas Island, Ashmore Reef and the Cocos and Keeling Islands, making them under this clause refugees to be processed under the currently stated Howard government conditions, and processing them on Christmas Island," Mr Smit said.

"This is an important document, and knowing the Asylum Seeker's ability to mobilize it 600+ strong throng of volunteers, there is no doubt that in some marginal seats, this "how-to-vote card" will surface on the streets of election booths," Mr Smit said, but the card should have been extended to include Family First, because Senator Steve Fielding has all too often been a "me-too" Senator, siding with the government instead of Labor, or better still, with the full decency of the Democrats or the Greens.

"Both major parties will lose out with this Report Card, Mr Smit said, and if they are handed out in the electorate of Bendigo (ALP, 1.8%), Isaacs (ALP, 1.5%), Labor will be and should be nervous, as will the Coalition candidates at Corangamite (LIB, 5.3%) or McMillan (LIB, 5.0%).

• • Pamela Curr, Campaign Coordinator, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: (currently in transit Melbourne-Brisbane) - mobile 0417 517 075

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

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