Friday May 23, 2008 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Kevin Rudd may well be generous, good-hearted and highly intelligent, but his comments on the ABC's new television program 'Ask a Question' either shows his ignorance with Labor policy, or is a clear and romanticised misrepresentation of Labor's island excision policy," WA human rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The Prime Minister was politically as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and optimistic as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his comments in response to a written question received by South Australian refugee rights advocate Ranjan Abayasekara, but equally manipulative when he contrasted Christmas Island detention with John Howard's Pacific Solution of Nauru and Manus Island, arguing that the difference was that Christmas Island is part of Australia - failing to note that Labor not only supports the Refugee Exclusion Zone of Christmas, Cocos and Keeling Islands and Ashmore Reef, but has also refused to commit itself to cancelling the further excision of a further 4,600 islands from Australia's Migration Zone."
"In this Excision regulation, Christmas Island is not part of Australia in terms of Australia's Refugee Law and these islands have a status where the United Nation Convention for the Status of Refugees can be happily undermined," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"While Labor in August 2005 fully supported a Senate Motion by Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett to disallow the excision of the 4,600 islands, right from his appointment in Rudd's cabinet Immigration Minister Chris Evans has weaved and ducked any clarity about now cancelling this regulation, trying to tell reporters that "it was not discussed" to dump John Howard's Orwellian laws on excising islands."
"Truth is, that under Kevin Rudd, full and independent review, open access by independent lawyers, is not legislated at all. Christmas Island remains excised from the United Nations Convention's full power and reach, as well as many other international laws and conventions. Kevin Rudd clearly buried this issue on the ABC's Television program."
"Kevin Rudd and Labor's ongoing promises to "process 90% of cases within 90 days" is also not legislated, and it should be, so that Labor can replace its tokenism human rights commitments with legislated certainty for the tens of thousands of Australians who remain disgusted with what took place during the Howard years."
"Kevin Rudd needs to start doing some real work, the time for political campaign statements is well and truly over now, and that includes giving Australians as well as the millions of future refugees certainty that Australia has a full commitment to human rights and to enacting all aspects and not just some, cherry-picked, sections of the UN Refugee Convention, Mr Smit concluded."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]