Tuesday June 14 2005 12:30am WST
For Immediate Release
Senior ALP backbencher and Member for Fremantle, Dr Carmen Lawrence, will table the first of the expected many bundles of petitions demanding a Royal Commission into the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and other immigration detainees tomorrow or Thursday in Federal Parliament.
The petition, an initiative of WA based refugee lobby group Project SafeCom, with its terms of reference formulated by several advocates around Australia, was disseminated by email last month to an estimated 15,000 human rights organisations, advocates and supporters, and sheets have been returning to the Project SafeCom office at a rate of about 300 signatures per postal delivery.
Dr Lawrence will table the first 4200 petition signatures either on Wednesday evening around 8:30pm during the adjournment debate, or the next day, Thursday 16 June (time yet unknown). She will present the petitions to the Speaker of the House, and deliver a speech upon presentation within the maximum allowable time of five minutes.
"People all around Australia are signing the petition, and in some cases we have received reports that people have been literally been queuing up to sign," Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit said today.
[NOTE: ABC News coverage last Saturday (11 June) of a rally in front of the office of Mr Petro Georgiou, member for Kooyong, showed clear footage of the Royal Commission petition being signed by members of the public]
"It really is an initiative whose time has come, and every day since the news of the unlawful incarceration of Ms Cornelia Rau broke, we seem to have new levels of extraordinary bungling by the Immigration Department reaching the public - the latest being the revelations by a DIMIA whistleblower "Jamie" on ABC Lateline yesterday evening," spokesman Jack H Smit said this morning.
"The revelations by the DIMIA man show that it's not just a matter of bungling, but a deliberately imposed cruel regime of deceit, lies and deliberate denial of the rights to a fair hearing by refugees."
"With Jamie's story we need to now assume that DIMIA is involved in lies, falsifying records to the most corrupt level. Department Secretary Bill Farmer's medal should be immediately stripped off him - and if anyone should get this medal instead, it should be a journalist such as Margot O'Neill, who is with some others amongst those who keep the government accountable to the Australian public."
"Thousands of refugee advocates have been stunned by the consistent failure of refugee assessments backed by very sound arguments from migration agents, lawyers and members of the advocates' community, we have always known that there was a deeply disturbing aspect to the thousands of cases that were initially refused by DIMIA as well as the Refugee Review Tribunal. We know see confirmed that the policies are not just broke, but that the implementers of these policies are corrupt."
"We have installed a 'thermometer' gauge on the Project SafeCom website, and we keep adjusting it every day: currently the tally stands on nearly 5,500 signatures, Mr Smit said, "but it may well have changed by the time someone looks at it again."
"Several completed sheets have also come in from the Filipino Community, and to the sheets was added an extra sentence, expressing the will of that community that the unlawful deportation of Ms Vivian Alvarez should also be included in a Royal Commission. Those sheets were also marked with a "Thank You Australia" remark."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]