Kevin Alert: pls fix foul policies & heal poisoned asylum discourse

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Kevin Alert: pls fix foul policies & heal poisoned asylum discourse

Media Release
Thursday June 27, 2013 8:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Rudd can heal the discourse, fix the poisoned chalice -- he can even 'Stop The Boats'

"Today we can be sure to be in the company of many Australians in congratulating Kevin Rudd with his return to the Labor leadership, but the country's most poisonous policy area needs immediate, serious and universally acclaimable attention - the kind of attention only an internationalist who has a record of unflinching inclusivity of the United Nations like Prime Minister Kevin Rudd can offer the country," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said today.

"While it is tempting for Rudd to start this work by attempting to silence the incessant and indignant howling and yelping of the vicious Coalition attack dogs - Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison (and sections of the Australian media) - who will howl incessantly and forever that 'Labor cannot stop the boats', the Prime Minister's work is also (and perhaps foremost) about changing the internal Labor discourse as well as defining its policies and narrative and build it again from the ground up, while honouring the UN Refugee Convention in all respects," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"Just this week, the sage advice and gentle admonitions in the House of Representatives by former Speaker Harry Jenkins in his valedictory speech, where he warned that in Australia we cannot claim sole ownership of some giant and dramatic refugee and asylum seeker issue, but that we need to look at the rest of the world, places Labor's internal discourse and consequently its policies back into the inevitable international context. Moreover, Harry Jenkins' speech comes on the back of the latest United Nations Asylum Trends report, which clearly shows that every day more people leave their homes to seek asylum under the terms of the Refugee Convention than the number of persons who seek asylum, by boat or by plane, in Australia in an entire year."

"The fact that Kevin Rudd will have his hands full inside the Labor party was on graphic display yesterday evening, when ABC Lateline host Tony Jones interviewed Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who had all his bombastic idiocy on full display when he tried hard to depict the current crop of asylum seekers arriving by boat as 'economic migrants', even going so far as to disgustingly finger the Australian Courts and official review mechanisms - the Refugee Review Tribunal, a body with Court status and powers is one of these. Bob Carr's disgusting manipulation needs immediate correction: it is unbelievable that our Foreign Minister tries to re-brand the wholesale failure of Australia's Immigration Department in getting its refugee determinations right by fingering the courts - as if the courts get it wrong more than 70% of the time instead of the now well known fact that it is the Immigration Department that gets it wrong more than 70% of the time when it decides asylum seekers are not refugees."

'Stopping the Boats'?

"Earlier this week, Kevin Rudd's Indonesia challenge was reported (see below) when it emerged that Indonesia entirely grasps the issues at hand - while under Labor, ever since Tampa, Labor has abysmally failed to be open with Australians about the link between its Indonesian refugee intake and the number of people who in desperation take to boats to reach Australia. The Fairfax report included comments from Mr Johnny Hutauruk of Indonesia's Human Trafficking, Refugees and Asylum Seekers desk, who urged Australia to resettle at least 2,000 registered refugees per year who already have been declared as refugees by Jakarta's UNHCR office. Mr Hutauruk was clear that this would impact on the number of people seeking to get on with their lives by taking to boats."

"What Labor has failed to do thus far was expressed by Indonesia, and - as many refugee advocates have argued many times - it comes down to the simple equation, expressed as a cogent slogan: "If you want to stop the boats, you need to send in QANTAS". Labor has been too divided and ambivalent to hear this simple message - stifled as it has been since Tampa by the Coalition's wedge politics and political slogans - but it is the simple truism that will eventually 'stop the boats', if that is the agenda in politics. It's about time Labor re-develops its refugee platform as a party for Social Democrats that knows it's part of the rest of the world, and this can happen under Rudd. If Germany can process 50,000 to 80,000 asylum seekers per year without mandatory detention, than surely Australia can cope with 20,000 to 30,000 asylum seekers per year, and then surely Australia can send in QANTAS to stop the boats."

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

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