Friday, October 03, 2003

Andrew Wilkie on non-Australian people smuggling: "The Government couldn't have done a much better job of encouraging more boats in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. The smugglers had good reason to believe that a much-reduced fleet was left blocking the way to Australia."

"The other obvious question is whether or not the pre-2001 election roll back of Relex [border security] was intended to increase somehow the Government's chances at the polls. Well I don't know the answer to that. But in light of the Government's habitual dishonesty on other issues, I couldn't blame some people from drawing that conclusion. Certainly such behaviour would have been consistent with the Government's broader and enduring preparedness to manipulate national security issues for its own benefit."

Wilkie is suggesting here that the Howard government may have deliberately encouraged boat arrivals in the period immeidately prior to the 2001 election in order to ensure that asylum-seekers and the govt 'response' to them would be big media and election issues.

"While I agree with the need for some form of initial detention for security, health and claim checks; I find that the practice of lengthy, sometimes indefinite detention, especially for children, in an Australian version of the Soviet gulags, to be simply barbaric."

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