Friday April 17, 2009 7:30am EAST
For Immediate Release
"It must be a comforting experience for many advocates and refugees who entered Australia since 2001, that the boat emergency near Ashmore Reef yesterday was followed by a fully developed emergency, rescue and medical response where we saw Navy Operations, Airforce facilities, The Royal Flying Doctor and several hospitals in Derby, Broome, Karratha as well as Perth's Royal Perth Hospital Burns Unit specialists jump into action to respond to the explosion and fire that saw many burns and trauma victims," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"I was personally compelled to remember the difference between this traumatic event and reports of the sinking of SIEV X, where there was not only an absence of any search and rescue, but also an overwhelming secrecy from various agents in the Howard government, and this comparison of yesterday's events with the SIEV X tragedy would have crossed the minds of many people," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"We can applaud the swift response by Federal and State government instrumentalities in watching the emergency machinery click into action, but regrettably media responses by the Opposition spokesperson for Immigration Sharman Stone as well as the quick conclusions leapt to by WA Premier Colin Barnett shows that the Opposition leadership is still beholden to the strategies of manipulative vilification of asylum seekers that was cranked up during the Howard years, in their desperation to get traction in their own politics."
"This response is not just a check on the government's dealing with asylum seekers, but also a desperate attempt to stay stuck in 'a falsehood notion', as if there is any truth in the fact that asylum numbers re 'flooding our shores', and regrettably the Opposition is ably assisted by several reporters of particularly The Australian, who all know what they're doing, but who prefer to stay stuck in the past, or prefer to stick with notions of a manipulative vilification of refugees and asylum seekers. These reporters will have to account for their attempts to classify themselves as 'inferior or second-rate reporters': we can't help them if that's the case," Mr Smit said.
For the benefit of all reporters, here are links to several Press Council rulings and adjudications:
Reporting Guidelines - Guideline No. 262 (June 2004)
Status of unauthorised arrivals
Adjudication No. 1260 (adjudicated October 2004; re-issued December 2004)
Adjudication No. 1242 (June 2004)
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]