Thursday April 26, 2007 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Nearly nine hundred human rights advocates, lawyers, migration agents, members of the clergy and of religious orders have since last week urged the Federal ALP Opposition leader Kevin Rudd and his Immigration spokesman Tony Burke MP to drop 'John Howard's ALP Refugee Policies' from their platform during this weekend's ALP Policy Conference at Sydney's Darling Habour Convention Centre," WA Rights Group Project SafeCom said this morning.
The campaign brought the attention of Rudd and Burke to three points of Labor's asylum policy that were unacceptable to the writers:
1. Labor currently endorses and plans to maintain once in government John Howard's new Christmas Island "Alcatraz or Guantanamo-style" maximum security asylum jail;
2. Labor currently endorses and plans to maintain once in government John Howard's Excision Zone where Australian refugee law is not enforceable on 4,600 islands to the west, north and east of the Australian coastline;
3. Labor maintains John Howard's "stopping the boats" policy.
• Page for the letter campaign: http://www.safecom.org.au/alp-petition1.htm
• Christmas Island Introduction page: http://www.safecom.org.au/alcatraz-downunder.htm
"Via a web-based platform on our website," spokesman Jack H Smit said, "they have sent pro-forma letters with an option for including personalised paragraphs to both ALP Members of Federal Parliament, and many of them used the opportunity especially to communicate with Kevin Rudd, expressing both their hope for a more humane policy and often stating that their Labor vote is conditional upon Labor changing its current policy direction drastically in moving away from aspects dictated by the Coalition government."
"Labor is presenting its voters with many better aspects to the way it intends to process asylum seekers arriving by boat," Mr Smit said, "but the Excision Zone and the Maximum Security refugee jail on Christmas Island are both of John Howard's making. So is their professed paradigm that 'the boats should be stopped', and all three aspects undermine the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees."
"Some of the writers have openly expressed that in the context of the measure of openness of coalition backbenchers, contrasting with reprisals within the Labor party against anyone who dissents with ALP Policies (they face expulsion from the Labor party if they do), they are even considering giving their vote to John Howard, if Labor does not remove these draconian obstacles from their policies," Mr Smit said.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]