Thursday, March 31, 2011

Australia: Conservative immigration spokesman rejects "extremist" tag

THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, has rallied to the defence of "the mob" who oppose the carbon tax and boat arrivals and said "sound-minded" Australians were being demonised by Labor as extremists.

In a National Press Club address, he hit back at race-baiting claims and said the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, "needs to stop insulting Australians for disagreeing with her".

Reviving a theme from his election blog last August, Mr Morrison said "the mob" raised families and paid taxes. The Liberals would stay faithful to them because they were the same people as Menzies' forgotten people and Howard's battlers.

However the extremist tag has caused ructions within the Liberal Party, particularly after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, appeared beside offensive posters at a rally opposing the carbon tax and Mr Morrison made comments on talkback radio about asylum seeker funerals.

Questions about "the moral burden" of decisions in the immigration debate should also be applied to the government's policies, Mr Morrison said yesterday.

"What we are seeing in the absolute mess and misery of our detention network - of those who are drowning at sea, or crashing against rocks at Christmas Island, or those who are wasting in camps as group after group come … I don't accept that as a morally acceptable outcome," he said.

Another boat, carrying 37 asylum seekers, was intercepted yesterday and will be taken to Christmas Island, the first since riots broke out this month.

Refugee advocates said yesterday a man held at the Curtin detention centre was in hospital after trying to hang himself.

A 20-year-old Afghan man took his life at the same centre on Monday, and another 20-year-old Afghan committed suicide at the Scherger centre in Queensland a fortnight ago.

A mental health adviser, Professor Louise Newman, has warned of "suicide clusters" in detention centres and has asked the Immigration Department to review its policy. The government has said the deaths would be investigated.

Linda Briskman, chairwoman of human rights at Curtin University in Perth, said mandatory detention had criminalised people seeking refuge.

Refugee groups expressed concern that overcrowding at North West camp on Christmas Island, which was partly responsible for riots, was now occurring at mainland detention centres. About 300 men from Christmas Island arrived at the Curtin centre at the weekend.

Ms Gillard said she was "determined" to have a mandatory detention system and it was "the right thing" for Australia.

The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said asylum applications should be processed on the mainland because it was cheaper, easier and faster. "We have very vulnerable people locked up with very little access to information."


Canadian Minister defends anti-smuggling ad Tamil group deems 'xenophobic'

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is defending his party's use of an ad that a Tamil group has called "xenophobic." The ad touts the Tories' proposals to crack down on human smuggling and features an image of the cargo ship MV Sun Sea which brought 492 Tamil migrants to B.C. last summer.

"Canada welcomes people who want to build a better future," the announcer says. "But our openness doesn't extend to criminals who target Canadian generosity."

A statement from the National Council of Canadian Tamils on Wednesday said the ad appeals to the "worst instincts of Canadians to score political points and votes" and urged the Tories to remove the ad and to apologize for labelling the asylum-seekers as criminals. "This election ad is xenophobic and borders on racism," said Krisna Saravanamuttu, a council spokesman.

But Kenney, who spent part of Wednesday morning watching the India-versus-Pakistan cricket match at an East Vancouver restaurant serving South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine, defended the ad and said the "vast majority" of Canadians support a crackdown on smuggling.

"Anyone who's coming to Canada illegally is breaking our laws. It's illegal migration," he told reporters. "It's not the right way to come to Canada, especially if they're paying a criminal network — a gang of criminals and often thugs — who run the smuggling syndicates. "We make no apology for making that point in the course of this election campaign," the Conservative candidate added.

Kenney added that there are asylum-seekers around the world waiting to come to Canada through the United Nations Refugee Agency. "We bring in about 14,000 of those people a year. It's not fair to them if someone in the same region pays a smuggler 50-grand, frankly, to jump the refugee queue."

Following the arrival of the Sun Sea last year, the Tories put forward an anti-smuggling bill, which proposes tougher penalties against human smugglers and more restrictions on migrants who use them. Opposition parties immediately denounced the bill as "draconian" and said it would deprive legitimate refugee-seekers of certain rights.

In the television ad, the Tories accuse the opposition of being "weak on border security."


No comments:

Post a Comment