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Lobby group shames Ruddock on zone excision tactics

The Catholic group PolMin has criticised the Government's strategy to excise small parcels of Australia's territory from the country's migration zone in order to prevent particular boats containing asylum seekers from entering Australia to claim asylum.

Governor-General Peter Hollingworth signed the regulations excising the four islands on Saturday night after a request from Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock. The intention was to thwart a boat of suspected asylum seekers, but the people in question turned out to be illegal fisherman from Sri Lanka. Mr Ruddock said the government would now seek to rescind the excision, adding: "Obviously, if the need arose again, we would take the same course."

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock explained that whilst this recent action was a mistake, the new strategy will be followed in future instances.

PolMin said that to deliberately lock out Parliament out of the process is to produce public policy that is not in the common good.

"Parliament plays a fundamental role in the public policy process by allowing debate on key issues through which the common good is reached on these issues," said spokesperson James McGillicuddy. "Excising parts of Australia's territories from Australia's migration zone specifically for the purpose of preventing asylum seekers from entering Australia to claim asylum is unjust and unconscionable."

He called on Federal parliamentarians to ensure that Parliament remains involved in the discussion of the issue, and "not allow this new strategy of excising territory by stealth to take foot".


Ruddock secretly excises islands (The Age 18/12/02)

19 Dec 2002