Friday February 23, 2007 9:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"It seems that the Minister for Immigration Kevin Andrews is so terrified to do anything wrong in the books of Prime Minister John Howard, that he has already created a Christmas Island asylum boat stand-off of his own making", WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Already, Kevin has tried to keep the arrival of the 85 Sri Lankan asylum seekers hidden from the public until Project SafeCom broke the story nationally at midday on Thursday, while the boat had been intercepted almost 48 hours earlier," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The media in those 48 hours was fobbed off with denials by the Minister's office that any further news of the 'unknown arrivals' had been received, but it seems now that Project SafeCom, through the media, has forced his hand in acknowledging the Sri Lankan's presence, when he seems to have been forced to issue a media statement yesterday afternoon in reply to requests for information from the many reporters who asked for more information."
"Therefore the headline in The Australian that the Minister first attempted to drive the 85 asylum seekers back out to sea is not so speculative as it seems."
"It seems that even now, while the asylum seekers are on board of the NAVY's Oil Tanker Success, the Minister is acting like someone obsessed with doing John Howard's bidding, while the ship is less than an hour or so away from Christmas Island."
"What is the Minister actually afraid of since yesterday," Mr Smit asked, "is he afraid that a disembarkation on Christmas Island changes the status of the asylum seekers? Is is not enough that Christmas Island is inside Australia's excision zone?"
"Or - God forbid -", Mr Smit said, "does the Minister want to keep his options open to have the asylum seekers carted off all the way to Nauru? What exactly is the game plan, Mr Andrews?"
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]