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Commission highlights Govt asylum seeker blundering

The Justice, Ecology and Peace Office of the Diocese of Broome yesterday joined the chorus of refugee advocates wondering aloud why the Australian Government went to the trouble of transferring a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers to the Christmas Island offshore processing centre when they had already arrived in Australia and secured the rights of "onshore" asylum seekers.

"It is beyond my comprehension that the Government would take up the time of the navy vessel and its crew and spend unnecessary funds on the trip to Christmas Island," said director Br Shane Wood. "The extra expense will continue in order to provide legal assistance and Departmental officers to the remote location."

Br Wood suggested deterrence was the reason for the apparently pointless strategy.

"Once again he has decided to use human beings and their harsh and unreasonable treatment as a means of deterring others from making the same journey. This is before any assessment has been made of their cases and their legitimate claim to refugee status."

Yesterday's statement also criticised the Opposition Labor Party for also lacking the "moral courage" to lead moves towards a more compassionate stance.

"It is a sad fact of political life in Australia at present that without a change of heart from the Labor Party another approach will not be possible, and we will continue to be embarrassed on the international stage."

Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, Diocese of Broome

Diocese of Broome
Lobbyists call Govt response to Vietnamese asylum seekers illegal (3/7/03)
A slow boat to Christmas Island (Sydney Morning Herald 2/7/03)
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs | Unauthorised boat arrivals | Processing Arrangements For Boat Arrivals Clarified

8 Jul 2003