Friday December 17, 2010 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Yesterday's talk about the role of smugglers who bring refugees to our shores - when Prime Minister Gillard, just like her predecessor Kevin Rudd, resorted in statements to engage in heavy rhetoric about 'evil smugglers' should be demasked as a political ploy to divert attention from her own confusion around the toxic boat arrivals debate and Labor's hopeless desperation to identify at least one area where bipartisanship is hoped to return to the debate - and it remains an extremely poor choice, not at all free of bias and not at all based on factuality," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"There has been a massive 'Elephant in the Room' of the House of Parliament in the last decade," spokesman Jack H Smit said, "and this elephant has been desperately kept out of sight of the Australian public since 2000 when Australian first started sinking inordinate amounts of money into keeping away desperate refugees attempting to reach Australia from Indonesia by making payments to the International Organisation for Migration and the Indonesian authorities - all designed to keep them from arriving in Australia."
"The consistent denial by Canberra that Australia, as the only country in the region that has signed the UN Convention, has a direct responsibility for asylum seekers in transit in Indonesia, attempting to reach the safety of our country because of our UN commitments, is the evil that is deeply embedded amongst Australia's politicians. Former Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans committed the Rudd Labor government to an annual intake of 500 refugees for assessment; but the fact that Australia did not honour that commitment but broke it, is one of the direct expressions of that political evil," Mr Smit said.
"Indonesia has shown a considerable amount of congruence with its Muslim values of 'hospitality to the stranger', in allowing people to land in its country and not being overly harsh to them, even while, without the Refugee Convention, it regards asylum seekers in its country as 'illegal immigrants'."
"Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was very clear about this moderate and uncontroversial position last year when he visisted the Australian Parliament, when he simply acknowledged that Indonesia was merely a 'transit country' for refugees residing within its territory."
"Just five QANTAS Boeing-747's, flying in darkness under a media ban to Jakarta in collaboration with Indonesia, will stop the boats - if that's indeed the agenda of our Canberra politicians. I'm absolutely confident that Indonesian authorities on all levels of government would be only too keen to help collect everyone from around the country and help us," Mr Smit said.
"Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and everyone else who's peddling spin, smoke and mirrors around boat arrivals need to stop the continuous feed of the hungry spin machine monster, and reporters in the Press Gallery and everywhere else need to refresh their own clogged-up brains and go back to basics: we should all acknowledge that the only thing we should be talking about is refugees desperately wanting to be assessed by Australia under UN Convention terms, who are stuck, and abandoned by Australia as the UN country of the region.
"The longer we avoid facing the music, the more refugees will resort to taking to boats to get to us, because they know that Australia is not doing what it should be doing."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]