November 01, 2012
CONTROVERSIAL crossbench MP Craig Thomson has accused the federal government of hypocrisy and is vowing to vote against its plan to strip away the legal rights of asylum seekers who reach the mainland by boat.
Former Labor MP Craig Thomson has slammed the government’s asylum seeker bill as hypocritical. AAP
A bill to excise the entire continent of Australia from the migration zone was introduced in federal parliament on Wednesday, after being green-lighted by the Labor caucus.
Mr Thomson, who’s suspended from the Labor party, has reminded Labor it opposed similar legislation aborted by the former Howard coalition government six years ago.
“The height of hypocrisy. You can’t defend that position. They may as well say … John Howard was right about border protection,” the NSW Central Coast MP told ABC radio.
The legislation is in line with a recommendation by the expert panel headed by former defence force chief Angus Houston that examined Australia’s asylum seeker policies.
It’s set to pass the lower house before the end of November with the support of the coalition.
Mr Thomson said one of the reasons he had run for federal parliament was to oppose inhumane asylum-seeker policies.
“The Labor party seems to have abandoned its principles in relation to this issue,” he told reporters in Canberra.
He also said the change appealed only to xenophobes and would have little effect because asylum-seeker vessels rarely reached the mainland.
“This is about appealing to those racist elements in Australian society that say we should not have any foreigners,” Mr Thomson said.
He also said that simply because there appeared to be agreement between Labor and the coalition on the bill “that doesn’t mean that it’s not wrong”.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the bill was still being examined by the coalition, but indicated the opposition could support the measure.
“You can anticipate the coalition will vote consistently on these matters,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“It’s the Labor party whose hypocrisy on this is breathtaking.”
Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury rejected claims the government was pandering to “redneck voters”.
“Why would we be increasing the humanitarian intake?” Mr Bradbury told Sky News.