Sunday July 4 2004 14:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
"Both via new web sites and new books being released in the lead-up to the election, Australian citizens and rights groups are making their presence felt on a scale possibly never seen before in Australian electoral history, Project SafeCom's Jack Smit claimed today.
"With the number of newly appearing web sites, many of them professionally designed, which attempt to expose lies, spin, manipulations and dishonesties by the Howard administration growing larger than possibly ever before in an Australian Federal election campaign, refugee groups, human rights activists, no-war groups and anti-Howard campaigners are indicating they demand a campaign in which issues of deep concern around the Howard government are fully brought out in the open.
"Just in the last few days several new web sites have been established, all of which concentrate on the concerns about a deeply established pattern of lies by the Howard government to the Australian public, and erosion of democratic and parliamentary protocol and conventions.
"While Project SafeCom launched its Parliament for Refugees initiative in January this year to determine which parliamentary members could be trusted over refugees and asylum seekers, a project accessed through http://www.parliamentforrefugees.com/ , and while the site owned by the Australian Labor Party, related to the children overboard affair at http://www.truthoverboard.com/ has been operative since the time of the Certain Maritime Incident Inquiry, new initiatives such as 'The John Howard Lies Website' at http://www.johnhowardlies.com/ , by a group maintaining deliberate anonymity, now also the website 'Defeat Howard' at http://www.defeathoward.com/ has been opened by amongst others Robin Rothfield, a well-known Labor for Refugees member from Fairfield, Victoria.
"These web sites add to the extensively resourced website detailing serious questions about the SIEV X affair at http://www.sievx.com/ by Marg Hutton, following the work of former diplomat Tony Kevin.
"In addition, last week's launch of the book "Not Happy, John!" by former Sydney Morning Herald's Chief-of-Staff Margo Kingston, as well as the soon to be released book 'A Certain Maritime Incident, the sinking of SIEV X' by Tony Kevin both add to books previously released such as Iain Lygo's 'News Overboard'.
"All these publications give evidence that the 2004 Federal election is about honesty of politicians, maintenance of minimum standards of public accountability and a preservation of parliamentary democracy and openness and the ethics of a fair public debate.
"In addition, the obvious hunger to expose John Howard as a manipulator and liar runs through all this material, and the fact that this is so, points to much deeper concerns than the normal party-political feistyness - they point to serious and universal concerns. In our opinion that is because Howard deliberately used con-man methods to win the 2001 election, and he has not been forgiven for doing this".
"If these publications have anything in common, then it is about the refusal by Australians to allow the Howard government, or for that matter any other political party, to manipulate the truth, to duck accountability, to lie to the electorate - in short, it is about democratic and parliamentary accountability, and about the roots the Westminster system and about core human rights and international conventions, whether they relate to refugees or to engaging in war, or to more broadly internationally agreed core values.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]