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Refugee cuts an act of 'moral bankruptcy'



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SHADOW M INISTER FOR IMMIGRATION DUNCAN KERR, M P

MEDIA RELEASE 16 May 1996

REFUGEE CUTS AN ACT OF ’MORAL BANKRUPTCY’

Proposed cuts to Australia's humanitarian refugee program, as outlined in a leaked Cabinet document, are yet another example o f the deceptiveness and moral bankruptcy o f the Howard Government, the Shadow Minister for Immigration, Duncan Kerr, said today.

M r Kerr said it is another broken election promise.

"The Howard Government is all about cuts, broken promises and secret plans - no matter what the consequences, no matter who the victims," Mr Kerr said.

"The argument being put forward by Mr Ruddock in this document is completely at odds with Australia's moral values, and a backdown from commitments given by the Coalition before the last election.

"It exposes Mr Howard's private, but real, agenda.

"During the election campaign, John Howard claimed a virtual monopoly on integrity and honesty.

"But now the election facade is being chipped away to reveal the real John Howard.

"The proposed refugee cuts clearly break an election promise.

"In the leaked document, the Immigration Minister, Mr Ruddock says:

'...my proposal to reduce the size o f the humanitarian program, with consequent reduction o f the refugee component, will bring into question our election commitment not to reduce the refugee component and to emphasise the role o f assisting genuine refugees...'

"Do M r Ruddock and M r Howard really believe that a saving o f $64 million is worth the betrayal o f trust to ethnic Australia and the damage to our international reputation as a humanitarian nation?

"The plain fact is that as well as an economic foundation Australia must have a moral foundation.

"You can always save money by doing things which are harsh and unconscionable, but is it moral?

"You can always reduce a commitment to those who are most vulnerable, but is it moral?

"These are the questions that M r Howard and M r Ruddock must consider when they make their final decision on the humanitarian program, and M r Howard should consider these same questions as his rampage o f cuts and broken promises continues," M r Kerr said.

Further information: Duncan Kerr, 0418 125 161 or (06) 277 2178