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Ruddock caught covering up payments to asylum seekers.

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The Minister for Immigration, Mr Philip Ruddock, has been caught covering up payments to asylum seekers.  Documents leaked to the Opposition show that the Minister and his Department have entered a secret deal with asylum seekers caught in the so-called ‘Pacific Solution’ to return home.


The documents show that the Department recommended to the Minister that, under the so-called ‘Pacific Solution’, he agree to pay $1000 to failed asylum seekers who had initially declined the Howard Government’s re-integration offer, but subsequently requested the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration to return to their homeland.  The leaked document shows the Minister was attempting to cover up the arrangement when it advised:


that this arrangement not be publicised and [be] conducted at arm’s length from the Government.


From day one of the ‘Pacific Solution’, the Howard Government has covered up what it is costing Australian taxpayers.  Now, Minister Ruddock has been caught red-handed with a document that details the next cover-up.


Today in Question Time I asked the Minister about this extraordinary memo, why he and his Department had sought to hide the deal from the Australian people, and whether there were any other deals shrouded in secrecy.  The Minister refused to respond in any real way to the question.  The only conclusion I can draw is that he has given his explicit endorsement to conducting secret deals, hiding the truth from the Australian people.


The Federal Government is supposed to be accountable for what it does and its expenditure of taxpayer money.  Secret deals, hiding from publicity and making money transfers look at arms length from the Government are completely unacceptable whether it occurs in PNG and Nauru or Parramatta and Nowra.



10 February 2003


For further information contact: 

Julia Gillard on 0417 361 637

Jamie Snashall on 0407 438 746