Wednesday July 30 2003 10:00am WST
For Immediate Release
Yesterday's tough questioning of the Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock by ABC LATELINE's host Tony Jones have exposed wide gaps in the credibility of the Minister in several key areas of his functioning - and this to such an extent, that Australia can now start to see Ruddock for the man he really is: weak, heartless, meanspirited, nepotistic, irresponsible and incompetent.
In the LATELINE interview the Immigration Minister is trying to desperately cling to the "Mad Max Legalistic Maze" of the Migration Act provisions, and he shows that his biggest fear is to show himself to be a human being and as a decent Minister who shows his humanness.
For a Minister charged with the duty of care for refugees, and with responsibilities for redressing previous injustices to Australian Indigenous people, Ruddock's attitude, the personality traits the attitude display, and the avoidance of answering questions has now grown to such an extent that he should immediately resign.
Project SafeCom expresses disgust with such a man being in charge of the most vulnerable in Australian society, and demands his resignation over the ATSIC issues and the appalling lack of care for those who should be protected under the UN Refugee Convention in Australia.
The Minister shows himself as being too mean to congratulate successful refugees, he cannot get across his lips the UN Refugee Convention Protection Clause, he attempts to "create spin" about the word "blind" and has shown himself highly pre-emptive of investigations into "Sugar" Ray Robinson.
LATELINE transcript at this location:
TOO MEAN TO CONGRATULATE SUCCESSFUL REFUGEES
Australia's Minister of Immigration is charged with duty of care for refugees but when Philip Ruddock is asked directly by LATELINE's Tony Jones whether he "will welcome" the more than 50 refugees - which includes 27 refugees from the MV TAMPA - who after two years of torture and agony on Nauru - Australia's Pacific Solution's bird-poo island - are finally coming to our country, Ruddock reveals his lack of heart, lack of compassion, and his dead soul: he cannot answer LATELINE's question: "Do you welcome them? If they are genuine refugees, do you indeed welcome them to this country?"
AVOIDING THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION PROTECTION CLAUSE
Ruddock, when asked whether the Iraqi refugees from the MV TAMPA were genuinely "in fear of persecution", again sees the need to avoid any direct answer, and shows his slippery reliance on spin, rather than providing the answers that others have already given. The Minister is unable to express any generosity or compassion, and as such should be seen as not suitable to hold his current portfolio.
Lateline's Tony Jones did not receive answers to the following two questions:
"If these people indeed have been assessed as being genuine refugees, does that mean they have a genuine fear of death or persecution if they were returned to their home countries?"
"If there were Iraqis on that boat fleeing from the most brutal dictatorship in recent times, why don't we welcome them?"
ATTEMPTS TO APPLY SPIN TO THE WORD "BLIND"
14-year old Shahin Agdar is blind in one eye, with the second eye progressively getting worse. While all of Australia is happy to use the word "blind" to describe "blindness", Ruddock shows he is unable to do this.
Ruddock's attempts at creating 'spin' are not just inappropriate, they border on the madness of psychopathic denial.
Shahin Agdar, an Iranian detainee currently held in the isolated detention centre in Port Hedland, had healthy vision before he came to Australia. After being placed in the extremely remote CURTIN detention centre near Derby WA, and later Port Hedland IDC, he has developed a serious progressive eye condition, which according to the Perth Ophthalmologist Dr Bill Ward was misdiagnosed and left untreated for at least four months, causing blindness in one eye, and advanced deterioration of the condition of the second eye.
PR: "I understand he has one damaged eye and he is continuing to receive treatment for the other. So, I mean, he hasn't been made blind in detention."
TJ: "When you say he has one damaged eye, he's blind in that eye, isn't he?" [....] "...he wasn't blind in that eye when he came to Australia and, according to Dr Ward, the 4-month delay while he was detention in a remote camp, he went blind in one eye."
PR: "I am not an ophthalmologist, I'm not an optometrist."
Federal Labor's Dr Carmen Lawrence, two medical experts in Perth, and the Australian Medical Association have called for immediate relocation of the boy to a less remote detention centre, so far to no avail.
The Minister also avoided direct answers to LATELINE's questions about the relocation of Shahin.
THE TAPE: SCATHING LAUGHS ABOUT THE RAY ROBINSON AFFAIR
Scathing laughs and remarks about "looking after his friends" on the "Robinson Tape" conversation are yet more evidence of an attitude which supports nepotism, a 'matey' attitude where this is wholly inappropriate, and manipulating investigations into the conduct of former ATSIC member Sugar Ray Robinson.
And as Australia has learnt in the last few months, Ruddock indeed seems to "look after his friends": the "cash-for-visas" scandal has left Ruddock wide open, and the questions this affair raises have not been answered.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]