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We thought we already voted Howard out, Prime Minister



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We Thought We Already Voted Howard Out, Prime Minister Published on Sarah Hanson-Young (http://sarah-hanson-young.greensmps.org.au)

We Thought We Already Voted Howard Out, Prime Minister

The Federal Government's suspension of new asylum seeker claims from Sri Lankans and Afghans shows the Prime Minister's "tough but humane'' approach is nothing more than a poll-driven return to the worst excesses of the Howard era, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Immigration and Human Rights, says the Government's decision to suspend processing for Sri Lankans for three months and Afghans for six months is dangerously premature and shows a disregard for human rights.

"This announcement is Kevin Rudd chasing Tony Abbott down the electoral low road that John Howard made infamous,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"It shows an utter lack of leadership - it's not what Malcolm Fraser would have done to those fleeing Vietnam, and not what Bob Hawke did after Tienanmen Square.

"The suspension is another breach of Australia's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, following the Government's existing support for offshore processing at Christmas Island and the excised Territories.

"This is effectively a return to the practice of indefinite detention, which plagued the Howard Government. It is unacceptably cruel and anything but humane.''

Immigration Minister Chris Evans today acknowledged that conditions in Afghanistan have meant that up to now ethnic Hazaras have almost automatically qualified for asylum based on a reasonable fear of retribution if they returned.

Senator Hanson-Young says the Greens now ask, what conditions have changed, when recently the success rate of applications by Hazaras was still almost 100 per cent?

"The UNHCR has recently admitted that "there is a long way to go" in the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, so why has the Government suddenly seen the need to sit on applications for three months, with a six-month suspension in Afghanistan?'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"The answer is as simple as it is brutal - Kevin Rudd and his ministers are willing to ride roughshod over the human rights of vulnerable men, women and children, just to try and ensure their re-election.''

Human Rights & Justice Detention Centres

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We Thought We Already Voted Howard Out, Prime Minister Published on Sarah Hanson-Young (http://sarah-hanson-young.greensmps.org.au)

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