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Howard's latest trick: Australia banishes all boat people ....

Call to Action:
Australia banishes all boat people...
...it must be a joke!!!

A very serious request for your help....

A scandalous and brutal Bill has been proposed by the Howard government to block all access to Australia of all asylum seekers arriving by boat, both for processing their claims and for settlement if these claims prove true. We need a dozen Liberal and National MP's in Parliament to become confident enough to Cross the Floor and block this legislation; and we need two Senators to Cross the Floor and block the passage of this Bill - no matter how its amendments try to obfuscate the sneakiness of its contents.

This email explains the case and suggests many things you can do over the next three weeks.
Dear all

If you are a citizen of Iceland or the East-African nation of Djibouti, and you hear the latest news coming from Australia about the way it intends to deal with asylum seekers arriving unannounced by boat on its shores, it sure must sound like a joke:
"Australia, the country made up of Irish and English convicts and other boat-arrivals, who came to its shores a few centuries ago in an 'unauthorized manner' - without asking the indigenous population for permission - to populate a country that was declared "terra nullius" - worthless land - banishes all boatpeople seeking asylum, and intends to lock them up on useless islands and in bankrupt nations, forever if need be...."
We know it's not a joke - and there are just three weeks to stop these proposals to become laws. There are MANY things you can do - and you MUST do them.

What's the case?

Under the new legislation proposed, everyone who enters Australia - not just already "excised" islands, but now also the mainland, will be "deported" to immigration detention camps - read: refugee jails - such as on Nauru or on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island. Australian laws will not be enforceable in these camps, and independent non-government lawyers will not have access to these asylum seekers. Also, after assessment of these asylum seekers is complete, they will not be allowed to live in Australia, but they will be sent as refugees to "other countries" (if these countries actually want them).

In the words of a young ABC Radio Reporter during the Easter weekend news broadcasts, "under the new laws, all of Australia is excised from the Migration Zone."

Of course this policy once again is based on a lie and a misrepresentation: regardless of the spin, it is NOT "illegal" to arrive in Australia without a visa to seek asylum, and the term "unauthorised" is similarly based on a misrepresentation: under the UN Refugee Convention as well as deriving from article 14 of the International Declaration of Human Rights, people seeking asylum using boats are well and truly authorized to enter Australia for that purpose - the only problem is that this has not been enshrined in a law or in a Bill of Rights for Australia.

You may want to be reminded that the UN Refugee Convention was formulated for Boatpeople - and not for Containerpeople, or for Trainpeople or Planepeople. See the examples of the boat stories on our website - filled with Jewish Refugees - that formed the trigger for the UN Convention see this page.

Ask Father Frank Brennan, the Jesuit Priest and Lawyer, who served as the pastor at the Woomera detention centre. He labels the Australian government "people traffickers" under this new and abhorrent arrangement:

Canberra joins the people traffickers (Frank Brennan, Sydney Morning Herald, April 17 2006)

More detailed news from Australian media in our newsletter, see the archives here - see also the "Previous message" link.

See also the Amnesty International Press Statement: Changes to Australia's Migration Act a travesty of justice (Amnesty International Australia, Press Statement, 13 April 2006):

What you can, and MUST do:

Demand that the Federal Labor Party unequivocally opposes this Bill, no matter what the amendments are or will be, because it tries to permanently destroy Australia's obligations under the UN Convention.

Demand that the ALP reverses this Bill in Full if it wins the next Federal Election - without ifs and buts, and that it is loud and clear in the media about this reversal, right here and right now.

Contact Federal ALP leader Kim Beazley:

Contact Immigration Spokesman Tony Burke MP:

Contact your local ALP Member:

Coalition MP's in Parliament
The list of MP's in Parliament who are already concerned with the proposed legislation is once again spearheaded by Petro Georgiou MP, Member for Kooyong. Not surprising. Please see our contact details for eight parliamentarians who also had conscience to a certain extend last year, when Georgiou together with Ms Judi Moylan launched the Private Members' Bills, and during the debates over the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005:

Please add your local - or nearest - National or Liberal Party MP, and add others as you see fit. We need about a dozen MPs in Parliament, who cross the floor on this issue and fiercely oppose this most draconian of all proposals concerning asylum seekers and refugees.

The Power of the Senators
We know that the government has a slim majority in the Senate. We also know that someone such as Senator Barnaby Joyce met the West Papuans on Christmas Island, that he was duly impressed with the genuinity of their asylum claim, and that he was outspoken about that in the media after he returned. We also know he's a maverick, who does exactly what he wants.

We also know that Senator for Victoria, Steve Fielding, wants to honour family values. How's this policy for destroying families, or splitting them again apart of children and women will find a "Free Range" Refugee Jail, mercilessly couped-up nonetheless, in breach of a raft of International Conventions?

Also think of Marise Payne, George Brandis, Judith Troeth. Contact details follow the MP's already mentioned: http://www.safecom.org.au/terrorlaws-crossthefloor.htm#mps

Other organisations
Other organisations and groups are also starting a campaign on these laws:

Uniting Church of Australia: http://assembly.uca.org.au/unitingjustice/

A Just Australia: http://www.ajustaustralia.com/home.php

The People's Border Protection Plan
It seems almost like this is the Refugee Advocates' Last Stand - protecting Australia's Borders from being meddled with by terrorizing politicians. I believe that this is the final plan John Howard dreamt of during the Tampa stand-off during 2001, but he could not pull it off at that time.

Do not allow this cruel manipulation of refugees to happen!


Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin WA 6312

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Cost of Wasting Millions on Offshore Policy

The Howard Government's current offshore detention policy which insists on holding asylum seekers on Christmas Island is runnning in excess of $1 million per person per year and the Government knows this unnecessary cost will escalate if the proposed Bill to shunt asylum seekers to Nauru is successful.

While Prime Minister John Howard has in the past said that his Government would 'go to any expense to keep boat people off mainland Australia,' there has never been a better time to question the cost of the failed policy of offshore detention and ask Mr Howard if he factored unreasonable and unnecessary expenses in his scheme?

The soon to be released, 43rd West Papuan refugee, David Wangaii, has spent over six months in detention Christmas Island after the Goverment chose to rigidly adhere to the offshore detention policy and fly him from the mainland.

The Wangaii case shows a huge disparity in sensible economic management by the Howard Government.

Refugee, David Wangaii could have been accomodated during his processing by the Department of Immigration for approximaltey $60,000 in say Villawood where the daily cost is $190.00 per day per detainee, as compared to the outrageous Christmas Island detention cost of $2985.00 per day or over $500,000.00 for the 6 month period of Mr Wangaii's detention during processing.

Currently there are five detainees held on Christmas Island in the detention centre and a family of four (including children aged one and two years).

From ParlInfo Web:

Senator LUDWIG — In answer to question on notice No. 51 back on 13 February, the department provided a table identifying the cost per detainee per day for each detention centre. The cost at Villawood was $190 per detainee per day and at Christmas Island it was $2,895.

Boatpeople Pacific Solution comes apart

Proposed Boatpeople Pacific Solution comes apart before it's written

Project SafeCom Inc.
Media Release
Saturday April 22 2006 1:20pm WST
For immediate Release
No Embargoes

"The proposed Immigration Bill to banish all boatpeople who enter Australian waters to seek asylum to foreign nations and islands, and bar them permanently from accessing Australia, even if they are found to be refugees after assessment, is coming unstuck before it's even been written or becoming public," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

TV Campaign expected

In addition to a massive campaign developing around Australia initiated by Rights groups such as Project SafeCom, as well as the NSW group A Just Australia, and by Amnesty International Australia, The group 'GetUp! Action for Australia' has confirmed it intends to campaign on this issue, both through mobilizing its vast numbers of members and supporters, and through a television advertising campaign.

GetUp!'s Executive Director Brett Solomon (contact below) has confirmed this today after receiving briefings from Project SafeCom, A Just Australia and also through the Melbourne-based The Justice Project's board member Ms Jessie Taylor (contact below)."

This morning The West Australian newspaper reports (transcript below) that Nauru, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are not interested in doing Australia's bidding as far as settlement is concerned. In addition, a Poll commissioned in Western Australia confirms that the majority of those asked think that Australia should process West Papuans on the mainland and grant them asylum in Australia, while an overwhelming 83% thinks Australia should grant successful asylum seekers protection in Australia.

"It looks like this shocking proposal, sacrificing Australia's International obligations under the UN Refugee Convention is rapidly developing into John Howard's A Bridge Too Far," Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack H Smit commented.

"Mr Howard knows the government is loosing badly in the polls since the introduction of the IR legislation, and he's groping back at his own self-loved and perceived success prior to the 2001 Federal election and the blocking of MV Tampa, and of course he wants to "do more of the same" within this context."

"But the Prime Minister fails to notice what Australians have learnt through Cornelia Rau, Vivian Alvarez, through the countless misery stories coming from detention centres, and he has failed to notice that the Australian community is starting to get very, very sick of his manipulation of refugees and asylum seekers, more visible in the context of our well-liked West Papuan neighbours than with any other group of asylum seekers."

PM's new refugee plan left in tatters

The West Australian
22 April 2006

 John Howard's plan to appease Indonesia by relocating West Papuan asylum seekers overseas was in tatters last night after Nauru refused to co-operate and a poll showed the plan lacked public support.

In an exclusive interview with The West Australian, Nauru's president declared that his country would not take Australia's unwanted refugees.

Gagged under Chatham House Rule

Gag under Chatham House Rule


Then there’s the inspired knuckle-dragging of Australia’s parliamentary secretary for trade reporting to our conveniently forgetful Deputy PM Vaile, De-Anne Kelly, Member for Dawson.

Voters want Papuans out: MP - Samantha Maiden, The Australian April 20, 2006

“NATIONALS MP De-Anne Kelly has attacked "soft-shell" Liberal MPs calling for a more compassionate approach to asylum-seekers, warning that voters in northern Australia want Papuan refugees sent home.”

Wasn’t ardent hard-shell, big-C Coalitionist De-Anne also an enthusiast for the Queensland National Party’s failed former Nazi Party candidate at the last state election?

Perhaps eager-beaver De-Anne might now start on her AWB cables or those on Jakarta’s trade and asset stripping of West Papua.

If after that she has spare time, maybe while her routine luxurious flights are delayed, she might also read up on the Third Reich.

She’ll find much to her sickening wrongheaded taste indexed under “final solution, The.”

I guess we can forget about De-Anne ever crossing the floor, unless it’s for purely self-interested reasons. Or to snatch a rural rort or two.

The Australian was also carrying the following items for the Coalition’s neos to gnash their teeth upon and menacingly brandish their Lugers over:

“Solomon Islands riot victims eye asylum - Michael McKenna, Honiara April 22, 2006

AUSTRALIA faces a new wave of refugees from strife-torn Solomon Islands, with hundreds of ethnic Chinese targeted in this week's riots fearing that international peacekeepers will not be able to guarantee their safety.”


“Detained Papuan is top leader's son - Amanda Banks, April 22, 2006

THE Papuan asylum-seeker being held in detention on Christmas Island is the son of a prominent founder of the independence movement.”

All capped off with a telling micro-rant by neo-con Greg “The Lies they tell our children” Sheridan, who reckons the SW Pacific is afire, and the only good people are the Indian and Chinese minorities. “Melanesia is a huge disaster.”

Shreridan, an extremists of the old style, omits to foam: “Oh, and the White Colonial gun-runners and general looters, and my friends in Djakarta who can do no wrong, particularly when I’m fellating them.” You’re as conveniently forgetful as deputy PM Braile helping Mr Cole with his inquiries, Greg...

SW Pacific is joined at the hip to PNG and West Papua, whether Jakarta, Taipei, Beijing, Tokyo, Washington, and Canberra (or even neo-megaGobs like Sheridan) like it or not.

But Sheridan’s silly mocking propaganda diatribe will be read and believed by an “informed minority” of Australians, probably including a peculiarly noxious senior diplomat of impeccable Liberal Party breeding who scorns Melanesians because West Papuans wear penis-gourds.

Not the soft-shell kind, clearly. And included in the informed minority are the hard-case guys, with big-bucks interests in ports, shipping, stevedoring, timber, mining and fisheries. With a light garnish of tourism.

And they don’t want the fucking natives getting restless ideas and interfering.

Couldn’t they just make boomerangs or something and pose for photos?

Kindly pass the kava. And where’s my k’n Luger?

here here

Well said Peter Woodforde, scathing and accurate, with distinctive gonzo style.

With the exception of one editorial, and the "reasoned imperialism" coming from Paul Kelly, the Oz has been producing even more intellectually and morally bankrupt columns on the issue than usual. Given that the publication is now without any ambiguity Australia's bunyip Tory newspaper this gives us more reason to fear. The difference between its views and the governments seem to have shrunk to almost nothing in this area. Thus here we have Australia's establishment views and they are set free from both principle and deep thought. They've even wheeled out an old time apologist for  the former dictatorship in Richard Woolcott, presumably to bookend the always reliable appeasement offerings of Greg Sheridan.

More disturbingly, when read closely, they are actually about appeasing not Indonesia but the TNI criminals that still threaten that country's democracy. Something Howard's policy is doing as well, but then the gang that is the Jakarta lobby in Canberra seems to see these criminals as Indonesia, and unfortunately the lobby has still not been weeded out. Gallons and gallons of Round-up will obviously be needed.

For something with some substance compare the nuanced and morally grounded piece by Kenneth Davidson in last week's Age to the sickly bits of slick neo imperialist realism appearing the Australian.

We have to keep fighting on this one, Howard's policy is obviously cowardly but it also bad for Australians, Indonesians and West Papuans. The only beneficiaries of it are the thugs in Indonesia and the low life corporates who bribe and profit from them and the misery and pillage they oversee. And of course the private contractors who run our Gulag.

piffle Syd Drate

It's a word my old granddad used to say when he heard rubbish. I think your analysis is piffle Syd.

I  paid off my mortgage in the 17% days which were not nearly as bad as you and others like to make out because that 17% was not as great a percentage of my income than today's rates would be. With the new IR changes and the uncertaintity of secure employment we are going to see a lot more grief for many mortgage holders no matter what the interest rates are. There are also plenty of self funded retirees pulling out their remaining hairs out at present.

Those who continually claim that out economy is going gangbusters because of the Howard government blissfully ignore a few salient facts. Our economy was just as good under the Labor Government who brought about the necessary changes to give business the boost it needed. That continued up until Keating's demise and under the Coaltion. But it's private business that drives the economy .

The other very important but never mentioned elephant in the room is the amount of personal debt Australians now carry - the highest in the Western world and twice that of their nearest rivals. If there were a slight recession which could easily happen without the Coalition being a fault, it would be disastrous.

And I've got nothing against flat screen TV's and will surely buy one when I'm ready to but I'm still waiting to hear how we are so better of then 20 or 30 years ago apart from the fabulous toys now available which are becoming more plentiful and cheaper by the day through no fault of the government but which also indicates the reaon Australians are so deep in personal debt, and sadly not to Aussie companies. Our debts are driving foreign economies. How long this party lasts is anyone's guess but it will end.

As to the latest Howard disastrous decision  about refugees, as Paul Kelly succinctly put's it "the master of the wedge has finally been wedged". This was bound to happen to the lightest of lightweights who runs this country and who manipulates for the pure vanity of personal power. He was bound to trip up and there will be worse to come. I believe my prediction will come true - John Howard will not lead the Coalition into the next election.

Remember the War...

...the huge street parades and the funny effigies before Australia joined the coalition of the whipped and shamed and went in on a lie? How many of us remember all those people in the streets being ignored by the PM et al, on the bandwagon of Cheney's little adventure.

Well the last election showed clearly that this moronic electorate doesn't remember and doesn't require honesty nor accountability in their leaders. That requirement is the property of some of the population... the ones with ethics and morals, something that no one in this Government demonstrates and no one who votes for them needs so long as their mortgage is OK.

How far over can the PM bend?

I can just see the cartoon now, Howard on all fours with the Indonesian president astride, and what's our PM saying, why the words he offered yesterday when trying to perform a kowtow and keep dignity intact - "I have nothing to apologise for..." Would that I had drawing skills.

Seriously this is a winnable one. Howard is out beyond his usual pale, though for any who've studied the abuse of human rights, it fits the customary pattern of escalation. But can he have it both ways, demonising asylum seekers within a discourse of nationalistic sovereignty and then casting them out in an abdication of that sovereignty. All for fear of a (not actually very powerful) neighbour.  Howard being a gutless bully here may actually involve some exposure of him as a gutless bully.

Australians (and especially the press) do remember East Timor and sadly are prejudiced against Indonesians. The PM may be both wrong and unpopular. This may put some spine even into the Liberals with no principles. Keep up the pressure on the nasty bugger I say.


This is the new "relaxed and comfortable" Australia, Surjit Wadhwa, that was promised us by John Howard after his first election.

There is no doubting that the country has gone through enormous change in its psyche - and you point out the most obvious change - the legendary "fair go" which is almost a distant memory and which has been replaced by an inward selfishness that is not entirely unexpected. Witness the bizarre attacks upon the hapless victims of Cyclone Larry as opposed to the Cyclone Tracey devestation when all sympathy was directed towards Darwin. Ms Devine would have been hunted out of town if she had attacked the victims in those days.

It's all to do with fear and is discussed in another thread. Mortgages rule this country and people can't really be blamed for being frightened about interest rates. But apparently we have never had it so good - although I still can't see what is very different from 20 years ago can you?

Just bigger and flatter TV's and a lot of great inventions by people like Bill Gates. And a lot of new taxes of course.


Michael de Angelos, you say "Mortgages rule this country and people can't really be blamed for being frightened about interest rates. But apparently we have never had it so good - although I still can't see what is very different from 20 years ago can you".

Of course the people are frightened about interest rates, they can still remember what they were like last time Labor was in power, I am sorry you cannot see the difference. There is a great deal of difference between 17% under Labor and todays rates. This is one one of the reasons that Beazley and Co are in opposition, and are likely to remain there for quite a while yet.

I know you do not have a great deal of time for "flat screen TVs" and all the other goodies that most people enjoy, but we are able to enjoy these things because of the way Howard and Costello run the economy. There is no alternative at the moment, unless you you think that Combet and Burrows can run things better. Nah, even you could not think that.

Just enjoy the good times whilst they are here, you will get used to it.

Who Cares?

No one who voted for Howard at the last four elections-based-on-lies, cares. They are too stupid to play chess, as I have always maintained.

The more I think of Howard the more I think of the "chats" lost in Florida, under Dick Cheney's mouthpiece's brother Jed.

Anywhere else it would be a basis for a re-election, never mind a re-count.

"We will decide "etc

This should be called the Indonesian Bill as it's they who are deciding who will come to this country. Chickens are coming home as they always would with Howard's devious manipulations of Aussies for his political gain. Let's see how he gets out of this mess.

Apathy - That's How

Unfortunately Michael the government can and will get away with this because as long as it is out sight it is out of mind for the average joe. If it doesn't hurt the hip pocket Mr Average does't care. It is the same with AWB affair - as long as "I am alright I don't care". The Howard government has installed this attitude into the psyche of the population and it will not be easy - bring back the "fair go."

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