Thursday January 5 2006 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"WA Human rights lobby and action group Project SafeCom, who last year endorsed the Friends Of the Earth's Climate Refugees Policy, expressed support this morning for the push by Federal Labor for long overdue focus on the issue of Climate Refugees, created because of rising sea levels and climate changes, spokesman Jack H Smit said this morning.
"In Labor's Policy White Paper, "Our Drowning Neighbours", launched today by ALP's Pacific Island spokesman Bob Sercombe and environment spokesman Anthony Albanese, the Federal Opposition calls on Australia to take an initiating role to assist in collaboration with other Pacific Nations in the intake and relocation of residents of countries such as Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea.
"While we applaud Labor for taking the initiative on this issue, something John Howard and his ministry have up till now tried to keep hidden under the table, it is however not good enough to use the issue of skilled migration as a criterion for the relocation and assistance of people of Pacific Islands," Mr Smit said. "Unskilled people, women and children also have their country sinking away under their feet. This is a community issue, this is a family issue, and it remains manipulative to talk about skilled migration issues only.
"Australia, which is now on the record as a country with the highest average annual temperature in 2005 since recording began, is also by far the largest contributor in the southern hemisphere to the destruction of climate balance in the Pacific.
"The people on the Pacific Islands do not dirty their environment, Australia does that for them, yet up till now the Howard government conveniently closes its eyes to the issue.
"Australia needs to increase its annual refugee intake, and create an unconditional new category of Climate Refugees intake for the nations in our neighbourhood. It is remarkable that countries like Canada pays the bill for relocation of some Pacific Island Nations, while Australia does nothing, and that should change - and it could, starting with generous initiatives brought by Australia at next week's Asia-Pacific Climate Change Conference."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Friends of the Earth's Climate Refugees Policy and Citizen's Guide:
Labor calls for action on 'drowning' islands
By David Wroe Canberra
January 5, 2006
SOS call as island nations go under
Sydney Morning Herald
By Cynthia Banham and Richard Macey
January 5, 2006