Hold the champagne

The Howard government has announced minor changes to its draconian refugee policy. “Too little, too late” says Western Australian refugee lobby group Project Safecom. They released the following statement this afternoon:

“West Australian refugee group Project SafeCom, while welcoming the announced release of some long-term immigration detainees by the Immigration Minister, has called this ‘massive shift’ in the Prime Minister John Howard’s ‘little mind of compassion’ too little, too late.”

“Firstly, The Howard government has failed abysmally to respond with much-needed generosity to a situation where we permanently created misery and psychological damage in people’s lives through our mandatory detention regime in the first place, by creating another class of “soft-shoe-shuffle deportation visa” – where people are still required to leave Australia in time with all the associated uncertainty and fear of it.”

“Secondly, while the Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone had the opportunity today to create clarity by naming that “all those” in detention for “three years” – indicating a simple, but clear cut-off point, as proposed by the Liberal backbenchers’ lobby group led by Petro Georgiou MP, she did not do so, and there is still no clarity as to whom exactly will qualify for the announced detention release.”

“Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbingly, the Howard government has no intention whatsoever to start falling in line with the UN Convention by offering resettlement opportunities, or by giving any semblance of humanity by offering permanency for those who cannot leave, and who finally should become re-united with their wives or children, or who should be given opportunities in other ways to unite with their family and get on with life. The Howard government’s record of ‘not saying sorry’ also fits asylum seekers tortured in our detention jails.”

“There is no olive branch of humanitarian visas in today’s announcement, and Australia’s asylum regime remains the dark blotch it has been since it became known right around the Western world as the most hardlined asylum regime amongst all Western countries. Millions of Australians will keep saying after today’s announcement that they’re “ashamed about being Australian”. Australia remains in breach of the UN Refugee Convention with its policy of mandatory detention, where biased spin-driven politicians keep the key of its barbaric refugee jails in their pockets or in the bag of their political party, and well away from the courts.”

For those hoping that the ALP opposition may be a voice of reason, Laurie Ferguson is their immigration spokesman. Need I say more? Nepotism is alive and well in the ALP.

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