Thursday December 4, 2008 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"If the Federal Opposition is so desperate about getting traction in the polls that they want to bring back into Parliament the rotting coffin of John Howard's vilification of boat arrivals and its associated carping about Labor being 'soft on border protection', as was evident this week in Parliament and during a shadow cabinet meeting, then they should put their money where their mouth is and be prepared to invest millions of dollars into an Australian asylum claim assessing office in Indonesia, so they can actually start giving some credence to Australia's Obligations to the United Nations Refugee Convention," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The Opposition's spokesperson on Immigration, Sharman Stone, has yet to show that there is a connection between people seeking to come to Australia and the United Nations Convention for the Status of Refugees - no, even stronger, she has yet to show that she knows the Convention actually exists, and that Australia, unlike Indonesia and other surrounding countries, is a signatory to this Convention," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Stone and Turnbull, ably assisted by the former PM's headkickers such as Senator Eric Abetts and Bill Heffernan, had all a mighty big mouth when it came to introducing another fear campaign about 'millions of refugees flooding into Australia', yet they have yet to show that they know anything about the considerable increase in push factors that are driving people out of Afghanistan and out of Sri Lanka, and as such they fail the Australian people, their electors and their national duty as implementers, also of Australia's International Obligations."
"If the Coalition wants to stop asylum seekers coming here, then they need to support a considerable development of true, professional and a humane hearing of the claims of people who are in Indonesia and who - rightfully so - seek UN Convention protection in Australia."
"This can only happen if Australian Immigration Officers are working with ample resources in offices placed inside Indonesia. If there is a massive investment in Indonesia to seek and disrupt people smugglers without also offering openings for those who may seek people smugglers, then Australia once again fails in its obligations."