Sunday September 12, 2010 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Prime Minister Gillard's confirmation this morning on ABC Insiders that Kevin Rudd in his role of Foreign Affairs will spearhead the negotiations for an East Timorese processing centre confirms that repeated bleating and highly frequent chest-beating about "dangerous voyages" and "evil smugglers" will be the central selling point in the major parties' escalating hypocrisy around boat arrivals during this government term," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"We can easily guess what the real agenda for the regional processing centre will be, we know this already, and this agenda is based on Australia's repeated intention to have asylum seekers processed "Anywhere But On Australian Soil" - the same agenda as former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser marketed in ASEAN countries following the fall of Saigon," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Three elements are essential for any regional processing," Mr Smit said. The first element is a firm commitment from countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and other nations, also those not in our region, for a guaranteed percentile annual intake and full civil rights resettlement. Negotiations will not, will never be complete, if the total per cent of guaranteed resettlement committed to by other countries after the refugee assessment is complete, does not add up to a hundred per cent."
"The second element for any regional processing centre is just as essential, and that is that Australia commits itself to take the Lion's Share of Resettlement, and that Australia is responsible for this regional processing plan. Kevin Rudd will only be able to sell his plan if he can look people in the eye and tell them that Australia, every year, will take something like 50-70% of the refugees that get processed in such a centre."
"Many of the ASEAN Nations will be shrewd and experienced on this issue, after having witnessed Australia, from Fraser onwards to the Howard government, in repeated attempts to abdicate its responsibilities under its UN Convention obligations, and knowing that Australia in the end tries to get other countries to take on the burdens these countries have no obligations to share - because they never signed on to the UN Refugee Convention," Mr Smit said.
"Finally, the third element of such a processing centre will be, that Australia needs to establish this on Australian soil. No matter how politicians will buck this, we should hope that the ASEAN countries tell Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to bugger off and look after its own obligations. Australia is the nation that has signed on to the Refugee Convention, and Australia is the rich nation in the region. It's time we stop playing the Colonial Lordship nation and try to fob off our responsibilities to other nations in the region," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]