Monthly Archives: December 2011

Harsh penalties for boat crew ‘target wrong people’

December 31, 2011

NINE Australian judges have now criticised laws imposing mandatory five-year jail terms on the crew of asylum-seeker boats, with the latest saying the harsh penalties target the wrong people, condemn their children to “extreme poverty” and have no deterrent effect.

Sentencing two impoverished Indonesian fishermen this month, Queensland Supreme Court judge Roslyn Atkinson said the laws were failing to catch the smuggling kingpins who move freely between Indonesian villages in search of more crew members to bribe on to the boats.

“Those people who employ men like you will just move to another village because they regard you as completely expendable, and people in small villages without newspapers or the means of modern communication are most unlikely to hear of a sentence imposed in an Australian court,” Justice Atkinson said in Brisbane on December 2.

Since the policy was introduced under the Howard government in 2001, it has been criticised by at least nine judges in NSW, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Northern Territory Supreme Court judge Judith Kelly — sentencing Edward Nafi, 58, in May — said the five-year penalty for the offence was “completely out of kilter with sentences handed down in this court for offences of the same or higher maximum sentences involving far greater moral culpability”.

Other judges to complain of the laws include Northern Territory Supreme Court Chief Justice Trevor Riley and judges of the same court, Dean Mildren and Peter Barr; West Australian District Court judge Mary Ann Yeats, NSW District Court judge Brian Knox and Queensland District Court acting judge Brad Farr.

But Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon yesterday backed mandatory sentencing, saying through a spokesman it was an effective deterrent when combined with other measures such as education campaigns.

When The Weekend Australian presented Ms Roxon’s office with a parliamentary petition she tabled in 2001 denouncing mandatory sentencing in the NT and Western Australia as racist and insisting on greater discretion for judges, the spokesman said the Attorney-General was unavailable to comment.

Justice Atkinson said the convicted men, the cook and deckhand aboard a boat intercepted in March last year, had four children between them aged between 17 and three, who would “suffer dreadfully” without their fathers.

Jufri, 41, the cook, was the sole income-earner for his family of four, who live in an 18-square-metre hut with a dirt floor. His wife now works shelling crabs for 1.5 cents an hour.

The other man, Nasir, 42, has two children aged 17 and eight who now have no breadwinner. Nasir is skimping on essentials such as soap and toothpaste so he can send some of his $8 daily prison allowance back home.

“The serious offenders at whom (mandatory sentencing) must surely be aimed are those who profit from people-smuggling . . . rather than people like yourselves who are certain to be caught and who live in such impoverished circumstances that the small amount of money you would make from a journey such as this makes it worth taking the risk,” Justice Atkinson said.



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Vietnam-style solution needed

December 31, 2011

IF the mass drowning of asylum-seekers could galvanise Australia into action in the same way it did on one previous occasion, we finally might see some real solutions to our refugee problem.

In 1979, the Fraser government’s immigration minister, Michael MacKellar, estimated that 200,000 had drowned after fleeing Vietnam following the end of the war. The cabinet papers from that year include estimates of between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of people perishing at sea.

A memorandum to cabinet from foreign minister Andrew Peacock said that between 100,000 and 150,000 could arrive in Australia by boat over the following few years.

This was a crisis serious enough to focus the government’s mind. It took part in a US-led initiative under which China, the US, Canada and Australia accepted large numbers of refugees, Vietnam agreed to stop forcing people to leave and countries in the region provided temporary refuge. Australian officials went to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to process refugees in holding centres before they were flown to Australia.

The Fraser government accepted almost 250,000 Vietnamese as refugees and migrants. It did so with the support of the Labor opposition, even though Gough Whitlam as prime minister had objected to taking those he infamously described as “f . . king Vietnamese Balts”. It was a process that effectively stopped the boats: between 1975 and 1996, Vietnamese boat arrivals totalled 3227 and that included 2029 who arrived before 1979.

The circumstances may have been different but it is largely a matter of scale. People are still fleeing from war and persecution.

University of Sydney law professor and immigration specialist Mary Crock has estimated that 1040 asylum-seekers died at sea trying to get to Australia between 1998 and last year. To that need to be added the 50 who perished at Christmas Island a year ago and up to 200 who drowned in the latest tragedy. Khalid Koser, academic dean at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and co-editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies, quotes an estimated average of 4 per cent of asylum-seekers who drown after setting out on boats.

If an agreement could be reached between the government and opposition, it at least would reduce the rancour that is threatening to poison overall attitudes to immigration and race in Australia. But at best it would be a temporary solution to stopping the boats.

The real answer lies in striving for something approaching the Vietnamese agreement. That would involve Australia and, hopefully, other countries increasing their refugee intakes — something that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has offered, but only if we implement the Malaysia agreement. It would mean tackling much more of the problem at source, processing more people in Indonesia and Malaysia, either through our own officials or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This can make a real difference, certainly in the case of Indonesia, where the UNHCR says it had 969 people it had accepted as refugees and 3009 asylum-seekers on its books at the end of last month, though there are more who have not registered. It would be harder in Malaysia, where the UNHCR total was 95,300, most of them refugees, but where we still could make a dent, particularly if countries such as the US and Canada joined in.

It would require a greater sharing of the financial burden. That could take the form of more aid for asylum-seekers in host countries in areas such as education and housing, as well as persuading those countries to give them more rights and greater security — another way of reducing the pressure on them to move on by any means available. Australia has made a start in these areas, including by increasing its intake from Indonesia to 500 in 2010-11 and discussions on closer co-operation.

But in the words of former Immigration Department head John Menadue, we are seen as fair-weather friends — quick to ask for help when we have a boatpeople problem but slow to give it.

Bowen calls the Malaysia agreement part of a regional solution, since it involves taking 4000 more refugees from the UNHCR list. But it offends the principle of true regional co-operation by sending back to Malaysia 800 asylum-seekers who arrive on our shores and are our responsibility.

Moreover, experts such as Koser doubt it would work as a deterrent. He questions whether it would deter people-smugglers, who demand payment up-front and therefore have no vested interest in where asylum-seekers go. As for their clients, “if the alternative is to stay in Afghanistan and be slaughtered in sectarian killing, whether you end up on the mainland of Australia, at Christmas Island or in Malaysia is not particularly relevant to you”.

Crock and others believe that policies of deterrence, whether or not they were effective in the past, will not be so in the future. She points out that of those on Nauru and Manus Island accepted as refugees, 96 per cent ended up in Australia or New Zealand. “We keep looking backwards and thinking we can just reintroduce policies that will have the same effect as 10 years ago,” she says.

As for the reintroduction of temporary protection visas, as advocated by Tony Abbott, far from acting as a deterrent, Crock says the evidence is that they increased boat arrivals. Because refugees on TPVs could not apply to bring out their families, more women and children came by boat.

Crock argues that the real reason the boats stopped coming under the Howard government was policies of containment, not deterrence. These included intercepting boats, Indonesia agreeing to take them back, and disrupting the plans of people-smugglers. In 2001, the Australian navy forced four boats back to Indonesia and failed to do the same with another eight, because they had either broken down or been sabotaged by asylum-seekers.

Abbott includes such a push-back policy in his armoury but Crock says that, apart from being in breach of the Refugee Convention, the inevitable loss of lives means it should not be contemplated again.


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Jenny Haines, 30.12.11

Response to Robert Manne’s article How the left got it wrong published in Sunday Mrning Herald on December 22, 2011.

In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald’s National Times Section on the 22nd December 2011, Robert Manne, stated his opinion that the Left Got it Wrong on Boat People. Manne notes the current stalemate between the political parties in Parliament and does not resile from his opposition to John Howard’s Pacific Solution cruelties, but he criticises the Left for not recognising the efficiency of the Pacific Solution in reducing the numbers of refugees arriving by boat. No reference is given for the figures that he quotes on asylum seekers arriving by boat between 2002 and 2008. But how can you have it both ways – if you are horrified by the cruelties of the Pacitic Solution, you can’t then use that Solution to justify the reduction in numbers arriving by boat. And it may be useful for Robert Manne to take a look at the following figures:
Year Migration program Resettled refugees % of migration program
2000–2001 80 610 3 997 5.0% 2001–2002 93 080 4 160 4.5% 2002–2003 108 070 4 376 4.0%
2003–2004 114 360 4 134 3.6% 2004–2005 120 060 5 511 4.6% 2006–2007 148 200 6 003 4.1% 2007–2008 158 630 6 004 3.8% 2008–2009 171 318 6 499 3.8% 2009–2010 168 623 6 003 3.6% 2010–2011 (planned) 168 700 5 998 3.6%
Sources: DIAC advice; Population flows: immigration aspects 2008–09, source data, chapter 4, 2010; and DIAC annual reports
As a member of the Labor Party and a proud member of the Left, I have always admired Robert Manne’s intellect and there comes a time in every movement where people change their views. The pain of the refugee issue can induce great shifts of opinion.
I do not subscribe to the view that current people smugglers are akin to Oskar Schindler. There is no doubt that crime syndicates operate in the business world of people smuggling and that those criminal elements should be dealt with by the processes of criminal investigation forces around the world, including Australia. But people smuggling is a difficult business that draws into its whirlpool those who are refugees themselves, Indonesian fishermen who have been driven out of business by Australia’s policing of their former fishing grounds, and opportunists. These latter people are often not fully aware or choose not to be aware of the criminal structure of the enterprise they are involved in, but are hoping to either make some money, or get some family to a safe haven through their service on the boats. If we are serious about stopping refugee deaths on the sea, then bring people who are refugees from Indonesia by plane or safe boat. It is a very simple solution. No sending them back to Malaysia with all its human rights problems, No Nauru or Manus Island. The problem here is the politicians on both sides won’t do this. They are all too afraid of voters in marginal seats and focus group outcomes.
The great shift in Manne’s opinion, is his conversion to offshore processing. Manne suggests in his article there are two solutions in the form of offshore processing – the Malaysia Solution which he appears to reject because it provides for 800 refugees being returned to Malaysia to an uncertain future or the re-opening of Nauru and Manus Island, but this time with “decent, health, accommodation, and education facilities.” (7).Given current government policy and practice on both sides of politics, of contracting out detention facilities to questionable international corporations, there does not seem to be any guarantees that facilties on faraway islands would meet these requirements. Manne goes on to admit that
“The obvious problem with such an offshore processing camp is that it might not succeed in its deterrent purpose. One solution here is to nominate in advance the number of those found to be refugees that Australia will accept each year from the camp, and to admit that number on the basis of date of arrival. The likelihood of a long wait should act as a powerful deterrent.”
But who goes to Nauru and Manus Island – those who arrive by boat and plane, given the government’s recent commitment to process both groups in the same way? Or is Manne suggesting some regional solution where the Australian Government brings refugees from Indonesia to Nauru and Manus Island by plane or safe boat, thereby bypassing the need for them to get on people smugglers boats to get to Australia? If he is suggesting that refugees who land on Australian soil be sent back to Nauru and Manus Island , Australia is in breach of the Refugee Convention. Given his concerns about the dangers of refugees sailing to Australia by dangerous boat journey, is he suggesting that we continue to allow that to happen, and then send these people to Nauru or Manus Island where they linger in an Australian created queue based on their date of arrival ? If he is suggesting the latter, there is a moral problem in his stated views. They seem to contradict.
Robert Manne goes on to suggest that once Nauru and Manus Island are re-opened, mandatory detention could be abolished. We don’t need the re-opening of Nauru and Manus Island to abolish mandatory detention. He then agrees with the current Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen that the annual refugee intake in Australia could be increased to 20,000. Minister Bowen will increase the annual intake on the condition that the Opposition agrees to the Malaysia Solution. Robert Manne agrees that the refugee intake could be increased on the basis that Nauru and Manus Island are re-opened. We don’t need the Malaysia Solution or the reopening of Nauru and Manus Island to increase the annual intake of refugees. Given the hundreds of thousands being accepted annually by European countries, an increase to 20,000 in Australia is a drop in the ocean. What we need in this country is a government that is prepared to act courageously and humanely, whatever the uneducated portions of the voting public think, but what we have is a government pandering to the perceptions of voters in marginal seats, and participants in focus groups. Until we have more education of these people about the realities of life for refugees and asylum seekers, there will never be a fair go for refugees and asylum seekers, in a country that once prided itself on being the land of the fair go for all.

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Sinkings fail to dissuade refugee boats

December 31, 2011


Survivor … Esmat Adine saw men in uniforms escort the bus.


INDONESIAN authorities have thwarted two attempts by asylum seekers to travel  by boat to Australia since the disastrous sinking of a vessel two weeks ago,  proof that even the loss of as many as 200 lives at sea will not stop people  making the dangerous crossing.

A group of 30 asylum seekers and  a group of 50 irregular immigrants  were  disrupted as they made their way to boats prepared to take them to Australia,  according to a senior police source in Jakarta.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said the attempts showed that  it was impossible for law enforcement officials to stem the surge of boat  arrivals unless policymakers in Canberra come up with a better deterrent. The  recent flood of asylum seekers has coincided with the High Court’s rejection of  the proposed refugee swap deal with Malaysia and Parliament’s refusal to endorse  legislation enshrining the right of the government to implement offshore  processing.

Recent talks between the government and opposition, sparked by the  capsizing  of a wooden vessel off East Java on December 17, have failed so far to reach a  compromise deal.

The  boat laden with about 250 asylum seekers was the second deadly sinking  in less than two months. Another vessel went down six weeks earlier, resulting  in at least eight deaths.

Despite the sinkings, and the worsening of the monsoon season, the lure of  relatively swift resettlement in Australia for boat people who can prove they  are refugees is proving overwhelming.

The Herald revealed yesterday that Indonesian authorities have passed  on details to the Australian Federal Police of an Australian citizen connected  to the people smuggling syndicate behind the doomed venture.

Survivors  of the sinking  said the man – dubbed Mr X by an  Indonesian  police spokesman, Saud Usman Nasution – was related to some of the asylum  seekers and had helped organise financing for the trip and promised to help  facilitate their dealings with the immigration authorities in Australia.

The AFP has denied Indonesian police have specifically referred the name of  any Australian national to them but a source acknowledged that ”connections”  between the  venture and Australia had emerged.

General Nasution also told the Herald a ”Mr Y” was in the sights of  law enforcement officials. He was a Jakarta-based operative and senior member of  the syndicate, he said.

The Herald is aware of the man’s identity but has been asked to  withhold it from publication as police  try to locate and arrest him.

Eight people have been detained so far in relation to the sinking, including  four low-ranking soldiers who provided security when the asylum seekers were  being ferried in small boats to the main vessel   at sea.

Survivors have spoken of military, police and immigration officials from  Indonesia helping the people smuggling syndicate at various points on their  journey.

Esmat Adine, a 24-year-old Afghan survivor, said yesterday two men he  believed to be police officers had accompanied the four buses carrying the  asylum seekers from Jakarta to East Java to meet their boat.

”They were on two motorcycles that escorted the bus,” he said. ”They  were on private motorcycles but the men who rode on them wore uniforms under  their jackets.”

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Greece must not leave asylum seekers at the mercy of extremists

December 29, 2011

An immigrant on hunger strike in Athens, Greece, March 2011
An immigrant on hunger strike in Athens, Greece, March 2011. Photograph: Orestis Panagiotou/EPA

On the morning of 25 May, Kelly from Ghana was on the bus going to a pickup place at the outskirts of Athens, where African immigrants and asylum seekers go to look for work, when he was attacked by a mob. He saw them from afar, standing at the bus stop – a group of about 10 young men – but thought nothing of it. They were probably going to one of the demonstrations, he supposed. But as they entered the bus, they pulled out bats, iron rods and knives, and attacked him.

As Greece struggles to avoid economic meltdown, dark-skinned immigrants and asylum seekers have become scapegoats in racially motivated attacks that, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, have become an almost daily occurrence in Athens.

Last week, in cases pertaining to asylum seekers caught entering the UK and Ireland, the European court of justice upheld that asylum seekers could not be sent back to Greece because they risk being subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Ninety per cent of undocumented immigrants enter the EU via Greece. The Greek response has been to announce the construction of a barbed wire wall on the Turkish border, though the EU has made clear that such a wall will receive no funding. The influx of migrants has not been welcomed by some segments of the Greek population. Thus the extreme rightwing party Golden Dawn won its first ever seat on the Athens city council in November 2010 on an anti-immigrant agenda.

On top of the many struggles they face, asylum seekers like Kelly now live in constant fear of attack. I met Kelly while doing anthropological fieldwork in Athens in February of this year. He was a friend of a friend, and he had agreed to show me around the west African immigrant quarters, where he and a group of several hundred young Ghanaian migrants and asylum seekers had settled, looking for a route into Europe.

Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers were living in extremely difficult circumstances, struggling to find food, and shelter. Like living dead, they slept all day to avoid hunger. Many survived on the discarded fruits and vegetables they collected in the market place, and what they could find in rubbish bins. Some slept outside, and those that had a room would share it with up to 10 others.

Even under the current difficulties, Greece must make sure that the most vulnerable people have access to basic necessities, including medical assistance, food and shelter. And Europe must acknowledge that this situation is too big for Greece to solve on its own.

A fence on the border to Turkey will not solve the problem. Lessons from the Mediterranean sea show that when extra pressure is applied on the clandestine routes the prices generally surge, and the risk of losing human lives increases. This year alone, about 2,000 people have drowned trying to reach Europe from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, while southern EU countries quarrel about who is responsible for saving them, and the rest of the EU countries look the other way.

What is needed is a strong, common European response to how the situation of the thousands of asylum seekers living under dismal and dangerous conditions in Greece can be solved. Too many EU countries hide behind the Dublin regulation, which states that asylum seekers should seek protection in the first country they arrive in even though that country, as in the case of Greece, cannot offer them that. But the Dublin regulation should not be an excuse for deserting the values that Europeans are rightly proud of, and seek to export to the rest of the world.

Leaving asylum seekers at the mercy of violent nationalist extremists is not an acceptable option.

Kelly knew he had to avoid the guy with the knife that came straight at him. He somehow managed to wrestle the knife from his hands – he’s a big guy and a boxer in Ghana – while the others assaulted a black woman sitting behind him. Suddenly the attackers decided they’d had enough, and disappeared. “The lady was beaten very badly,” Kelly said. “Blood was flowing down her face. She tried to call for help in their language. But nobody came. They were all afraid.” After the attack, the Africans went their separate ways, filing no report with the police.

One day, taking a short break from fieldwork, Kelly and I visited the Acropolis, and discussed its significance in European cultural history. Kelly, disappointed with his miserable life, said: “The Greeks used to be first in democracy – now they’re last.”


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2011 was a bad year, 2012 will be much worse

December 30, 2011

And so, here we are again. The end of 2011 looms, the stern faces of Janus looking back on what has been and saying, “well that was crap”, and forward to what will be and saying, “It just gets worse”.

And indeed it is a comfort, as we contemplate the living @#!*% that has been this year, to think that next year will definitely be much worse. But before we struggle on into the vale of tears that is the future, let’s reflect on what we’ve all just been through.

Two thousand and eleven, or “twenty eleven” for the time-poor, will be remembered as a year of upheaval. In Australia, people power came to the fore when truck drivers and easily-disoriented pensioners in their dozens marched on Canberra, determined to stop the megalomaniacal Juliar “Julia” Gillard from taxing the air we breathe, destroying all our industries, and continuing to keep the country in the pocket of Big Female.

Although the “Convoy of No Confidence” – named after Christopher Pyne – failed to repeal the carbon tax, it did send a strong message to the Labor-Greens alliance that elderly people with nothing better to do were a force to be reckoned with, and had the added benefit of causing Alan Jones to explode, scattering Jones particles over a wide area of countryside.

But it just went to show that this was the year when the Government started to completely ignore the will of the people, as the Gillard “Government” went on its merry way, passing legislation left, right and centre despite the fact that the Opposition had made perfectly clear they would rather it didn’t. Breaking a century-old parliamentary convention of taking into account Opposition impact statements, however, was par for the course for Gillard’s out-of-control junta in 2011.

It was no wonder dissatisfaction was so widespread, finding great expression in the “Occupy” movement, which proved that ordinary people, if they work together and stick to their principles, can indeed camp for extended periods in public places. The Occupiers had a very clear message to send to the elites: We Don’t Like Some Things, And If They Are Not Better, We Will Camp Here Some More.

This led to major clashes around the world, as police forces, provoked beyond breaking point by the Occupiers’ inflammatory sitting, started hitting people as a reminder of the power of the state and how much fun it is to hit people.

Of course, one area the Government didn’t have things all its own way was the “Malaysia Solution”, under which Australia would send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia, and Malaysia would send 4,000 back to Australia, plus three second-round draft picks. This brilliant plan failed, after the Government discovered its cunning stratagem of introducing legislation it knew wouldn’t pass, then withdrawing it before anyone voted, was somewhat outdated in these days of everyone in parliament not being on drugs. And so millions upon millions of so-called “refugees” continued to flood the western suburbs of Sydney, taking our jobs and going on the dole and deliberately drowning themselves just to guilt-trip us.

Luckily, our brave politicians leapt swiftly into action to declare 2011 the Year of Caring About Drowning People, and, motivated by a touching and extremely genuine concern for the welfare of asylum seekers, worked like Trojans to find a way to make Australia horrible enough that nobody would want to come here. Their efforts reached their zenith with the late-year radio survey showing Kyle Sandilands remained popular, yet a solution to the intractable problem of people thinking of coming to Australia would be nicer than having their whole family massacred remained elusive.

The failure to find a solution was strange, given our politicians’ repeated statements that they really, really wanted to. Tony Abbott even said he was willing to work on Christmas Day to do so, to which Chris Bowen said that he was too, to which Abbott retorted that he was willing to work Christmas, Boxing Day AND New Year’s, to which Bowen replied that he would work on his kids’ birthdays, to which Abbott said he would get his wife pregnant and work while she was giving birth, to which Bowen said he would work while bathing, to which Abbott said he would work while chained up inside a sack in a shark tank; yet, bizarrely, the Government and Opposition, at time of writing, have failed to reach agreement. Given the good faith and extremely real compassion running rampant through both parties, this was surprising.

But there’s no point dwelling on what didn’t get done in 2011: we need to dwell on what did, and the list is long: the carbon tax, the mining tax, some other stuff probably. This was a year, as the Prime Minister said, of “decision and delivery”, and there was no doubt that the Government really made thing-doing a priority.

But 2011 was not all about Australia, of course – it only mostly was. Elsewhere, the US made the news by sinking slowly into the ocean, while in the UK it was revealed that over 90 per cent of the country’s population had had their phones hacked. But the big international event of 2011 was the “Arab Spring”, where thousands upon thousands of freedom-lovers across the Middle East and North Africa rose up and overthrew their tyrannical dictators, presumably because they had tried to introduce a carbon tax. No wonder Time magazine named protestors their official Confusing Concept of the Year. But it was really a credit to the US, whose plucky invasions had shown the Arabs the way, introducing to them the concept of not liking dictators. Coincidentally, 2011 was also the year the US withdrew from Iraq, having completed their own “Arab Spring” (2003-2011), and satisfied with a job well done.

Indeed, this year was a bad year for tyrants and oppressors and baddies of all descriptions. We saw the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American action-men, the death of Moamar Gaddafi at the hands of YouTube pranksters, and the death of Kim Jong-il at the hands of communism’s greatest foe, God. It just goes to show you should never give up hope – even when you are being oppressed, downtrodden, and forced to slowly starve to death, you can take heart from the knowledge that eventually the bad guy will drop dead and be replaced by his insane son. Australians living under Juliar’s yoke can only hope for as happy an ending.

And it is in that spirit of hope that we commend the year 2011 to the pages of history, and look forward to 2012 with our hearts full of love, joy, and a strong feeling of nameless dread.

So it was just like every other year, really.

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Gillard’s cold-hearted priorities

December 30, 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard ignored the deaths of more than a hundred asylum seekers but broke her holiday to announce new funding for a car park.

How sick are her priorities?

Is this what she regards as national leadership?

The spend-thrift PM has no conscience.

Though she and her Green-Independent minority government partners must bear the full responsibility for the failed policies which even hard-line Leftists now accept lure thousands to risk their lives and in possibly a thousand cases, die, Gillard would not come out of hiding when the latest SIEV foundered with a tragic loss of up to 200 men, women and children a fortnight ago.

But a photo call at the Adelaide Oval to announce a $30 million federal government grant to help rebuild Adelaide Oval saw her emerge yesterday to take full advantage of the photo opportunity.

The funding comes on top of the $535 million the state government has committed towards the stadium.

Demonstrating her disconnect with the real world, she denied her government’s funding announcement was an attempt to buy votes in her home state.

“This is no more complicated than what you see in front of you,” Gillard told The Australian. “As someone who grew up in this place, I can remember the days that we basically all had our backs turned to the River Torrens so you didn’t really view it as a feature of the city.”

Now she turns her back on her failed policies and their lethal side effects.

Federal Liberal senator Simon Birmingham justifiably questioned the $30m contribution from the federal government, which will fund an additional 75 members’ car parking places and free up the state government to install a third replay screen.

“It’s going to provide an extra 75 car parks – whoopee,” Birmingham said.

Whoopee for a few car spaces, indeed, but not one syllable for those who died as a direct result of her failed border protection policy.

Voters should remember the day when Gillard turned her back on the dead.


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