Bishop says many illegal immigrants don't have a queue to jump
Sydney auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has told students at a Sydney school that illegal immigrants should not be dismissed as 'queue-jumpers' but treated as human beings with rights and dignity.
Stressing that he did not want to enter political debate, and that polls suggested the majority of Australians supported the government's actions, Bishop Robinson said asylum seekers arriving by sea had been pigeon-holed as queue-jumpers.
"No-one likes a queue jumper," he said. "But that raises a question: In Afghanistan, is there a queue they can join? Is there an Australian consulate with forms to fill out? And what would the Taliban government say?
"Can people be queue jumpers if there is no queue to join? If, in fact, we must take people out of the pigeonhole of queue jumper and look at them as human beings, are we respecting the rights and dignity of them as people?"
But Bishop Robinson emphasised that the community should get behind the government to do what is possible to stop people smugglers, although "there still must be some questions about [the Tampa] incident and the way it has been handled".