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Tigers could be on boats: Tamil leader -

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Tigers could be on boats: Tamil leader

Sabra Lane reported this story on Monday, October 26, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: A senior figure within the Australian Tamil community says there could be Tamil
Tigers, among the asylum seekers trying to make their way to Australian shores.

Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey says those comments back his controversial claims last week about
terrorists being aboard the boatloads of asylum seekers. But independent Senator Nick Xenophon is
calling for an end to what he describes as 'dog-whistle' politics.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Last week, outspoken Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey suggested there were high odds
that terrorists might be among the asylum seekers trying to enter Australia by boat.

Today, the secretary of the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations, Victor Rajakulendran
told News Radio he wouldn't be surprised if former Tamil Tigers were trying to escape Sri Lanka.

VICTOR RAJAKULENDRAN: That is a probability. That is what I have told, you know. So out of 200
Tamil asylum seekers, there could be a Tiger. Ex-Tiger cadre because they are also fleeing the
country like any other Tamils because their life is also in danger and I would say their life is in
more danger than a common Tamil civilian. The common Tamil civilians are leaving the country
because of fear of their lives. These people also will definitely flee the country so they could be
in the boat.

They should be classified as liberation fighters and not terrorists.

SABRA LANE: Wilson Tuckey says those admissions underline the point he's being trying to make.

WILSON TUCKEY: Well, I think it authenticates it. It is quite interesting of course.

SABRA LANE: Mr Tuckey says he's received phone calls supporting his views, and he's warned the
Prime Minister to stop bullying him.

Last week, Kevin Rudd challenged the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull to dis-endorse Mr Tuckey as
a Liberal party candidate at the next federal election, as punishment for the comments he made
about asylum seekers.

WILSON TUCKEY: For Mr Rudd to come out and try and bully me. You know, I'm no flight attendant and
the reality of it is that seems to be his only defence for failed public policy. It is alright, it
works with his factional leaders I suppose and as I said flight attendants.

SABRA LANE: And Mr Tuckey's now changed his attack on the Government over the increasing number of
asylum seekers arriving in Australia. He wonders if there are enough personnel on Christmas Island
now to conduct health and security checks on the detained asylum seekers.

WILSON TUCKEY: The question is how thoroughly are those sort of things being done. I think there
are questions to be answered and more particularly those were the otherwise legitimate claim. What
is their health status and what threat, unfortunately, might they represent to children and others
within Australia.

I mean these are the things that must be established. I wonder, considering this massive influx,
how many qualified people he has got over there to do the job in the interest of Australia.

SABRA LANE: The Greens spokeswoman on immigration is Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. She says the past
week's debate on the issue has been unedifying.

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: The Senate is back today. We've heard the ugliness from the House of
Representatives in the last week. The ugly language used. The insinuations that people are
terrorists. Name-calling of scum and illegals. I think the Senate is better than this.

Today I am putting forward a motion to call on all of my Senate colleagues to agree that we can
participate in this debate properly, respectfully and with a level of maturity that is needed for
us to have this rational debate. I am calling on the Senate to be mature. Let's have this debate
but let's do it properly and respectfully.

SABRA LANE: The Australian customs vessel the Oceanic Viking, which is carrying 78 asylum seekers,
is expected to dock today. It's planned that the passengers will go to a detention facility in
Tanjung Pinang. But, detainees at the facility now claim they've been the subject of abuse and
beatings.

Independent Senator Nic Xenophon.

NICK XENOPHON: Those allegations of mistreatment need to be investigated thoroughly. Australia has
an obligation to do so since they are funding the centre in large part and I think let's hope that
this week puts an end to the dog-whistle politics and we actually go in a much more sensible
direction in terms of getting some solutions here.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the independent Senator Nick Xenophon, ending that report by Sabra Lane in
Canberra.