July 24, 2013
The mayor of the southern Tasmanian area housing Pontville Immigration Detention Centre has hit out at Labor’s latest immigration policy shift.
Human rights groups and others have condemned Labor’s decision to process and resettle refugees who arrive in Australia by boats in Papua New Guinea.
Brighton mayor Tony Foster says he is disgusted by the Federal Government’s latest policy shift.
Pontville houses more than 300 young asylum seekers, including two 11-year-olds.
Alderman Foster says the Government has turned its back on asylum seekers.
“The rest of the world are looking at Australia and saying, ‘you’re nothing but a joke down there, you’re a bunch of pariahs’,” he said.
“I’ve been supportive, I’ve tried to get things to work. I’ve spoken to Chris Bowen, I’ve tried to get things changed at Pontville whereby people are allowed to come and go a lot more freely.
“They don’t want to listen to anything that progresses the way that we can look after these people…but we need to change the policy of incarcerating these young people seven days a week.”
The mayor says processing asylum claims in centres like Pontville is still a better policy and the new policy will not stop the boat arrivals.
“When you see something as reprehensible as what has been announced by Rudd and supported by Abbott, it is time for Australians to stand up and say enough is enough.”
“Unaccompanied minors are not going to stop coming.”
Tasmanian Federal Labor MP Geoff Lyons says processing boat arrivals onshore does not work and and the policy which will prevent drownings.
He says asylum seekers arriving by boat will no longer be processed at Pontville.
The head of the Anglican Church in Tasmania has also condemned the policy, telling Kevin Rudd in a tweet: “Jesus weeps.”