Wednesday October 15, 2008 2:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
"The credibility of Senator and Special Minister of State John Faulkner has just flown out of the window with his reported absence from the Senate, and with Labor's opposition to a Motion put by Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young, who commemorated the sinking of the SIEV X, which sank in International waters south of the Sunda Strait in October 2001, and who moved for a judicial inquiry into matters concerning people smuggling operatives and into the sinking of SIEV X," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning. (Ms Hanson-Young's press release below)
"Senator Hanson-Young is not regurgitating dead wood with her motion, as many people in Australia may think, but her motion was simply built on the loud and clear fury vocally expressed by Senator Faulkner, who said in July 2003 in a speech:
"I said recently in Parliament and I have no reason to change my view:"
"The issue of sabotage of people smugglers' vessels has been canvassed by the AFP informant Kevin Enniss. I ask these questions: was Enniss involved in the sabotage of vessels? Were others involved in the sabotage of vessels? Do Australian ministers, officials or agencies have knowledge of such activities? And what about the vessel now known as SIEV X, part of the people-smuggling operation of the notorious people smuggler Abu Quassey? That vessel set sail on 18 October 2001 and sank on 19 October 2001, drowning 353 people, including 142 women and 146 children. Were disruption activities directed against Abu Quassey? Did these involve SIEV X?"
"I intend to keep asking questions until I find out. I intend to keep pressing for an independent judicial inquiry into these very serious matters."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you agree that although this issue may not be popular and although these matters may not win many votes, a serious Opposition cannot resile from pursuing them and holding the Howard Government and its Ministers accountable for their decisions and their actions."
(See http://www.safecom.org.au/disruption.htm )
"Sadly, the Rudd government has walked away from major commitments given while in opposition, and it has deteriorated into the Mister Average Party. Tens of thousands of people were hoping for an end to the veils of secrecy surrounding the People Smuggling Taskforce, and the many unanswered questions left over after the Inquiry into a Certain Maritime Incident, spokesman Jack H Smit said."
"Where is Faulkner's fury now? Where is his rigour and candour? And also, where are the questions also raised by the Inquiry Chair at the time, Senator Jacinta Collins, who was reportedly also absent from the Senate during the time that this Greens motion came through?"
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Senate blocks inquiry into asylum seeker tragedy
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia
Wednesday 15 October 2008
A motion calling for a judicial inquiry into the Commonwealth Government's People Smuggling Strike Team's actions, including those concerning the boat known as SIEV X and its tragic loss of life, has been voted down by the Senate.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young moved the motion, which also called for recognition of the seventh anniversary on October 19 of the SIEV X's sinking, from which 353 lives were lost. The Greens and other cross-bench senators supported it; the Government and Opposition voted against.
Senator Hanson-Young said it was disappointing that the Government in particular had not supported a judicial inquiry.
"While in Opposition, Labor was outspoken on the Howard Government's people smuggling disruption policies and handling of the SIEV X tragedy," she said.
"In September 2002, Senator John Faulkner declared he would continue to press for a judicial inquiry into what he described as 'very serious matters'.
"What on earth could have changed over the past six years such that the loss of 353 lives, including 146 children, is no longer a serious enough matter to deserve a judicial inquiry?"
Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens would continue to push for a judicial inquiry into the matter.
"Australia has much to do to restore its international obligations to asylum seekers," she said.
"A judicial inquiry would allow the truth to be uncovered around this appalling blight on Australia's history books, and act as a measure to ensure that such horror will never happen again."
The text of Senator Hanson-Young's motion follows.
For more information: Gemma Clark on 0427 604 760
(a) notes that:
i) October 19, marks the 7th anniversary of a boat known as the SIEV X, bound for Australia and carrying 421 passengers and crew;
ii) This boat sank with the tragic loss of 353 lives, including 146 children; and
iii) In Opposition, the Government repeatedly expressed its anger and frustration with the former Government's inaction on establishing a full judicial inquiry into the SIEV X tragedy;
(b) expresses its regret and sympathy at the tragic loss of so many innocent lives; and
(c) calls on the Government to immediately establish an independent judicial inquiry into all aspects of the People Smuggling Strike Team operated by the Commonwealth Government from 2000 to date, in particular the boat known as SIEV X.