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PM slandered refugees: children overboard: the Scrafton sequel.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1131 THURSDAY 9 DECEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS & SPOKESPERSON ON IMMIGRATION & MULTICULTURALISM PM SLANDERED REFUGEES Children Overboard - the Scrafton Sequel The refugees who were accused of throwing their children overboard should receive an apology from the Prime Minister, according to Democrats' Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett, who participated in both the inquiries into the 'children overboard' claims The Senate Committee report into the Scrafton evidence on the children overboard incident which was revealed in the lead up to the election was released today. Senator Bartlett said the refugees involved should have been invited to appear before the inquiry. "The asylum seekers at the centre of the children overboard allegations have never had the opportunity to put their side of the story to the Parliament's inquiries," Senator Bartlett said. "These refugees, many of whom are now living in Australia, were gravely defamed by the Prime Minister and at least three of his Ministers. At least twice the Prime Minister publicly said "I don't want people like that in Australia." "The refugees have never received any apology for the enormous slur that was cast upon them. "This report also highlights the outrage that there are still 14 survivors from that boat, still imprisoned on Nauru, more than three years after they nearly drowned at sea. These people cannot return home. After fleeing Iraq in search of freedom they have been imprisoned by the Australian government for over three years despite committing no crime." Senator Bartlett also said that Mr Mike Scrafton, the man who told the Prime Minister the children overboard incident was false, was a brave and courageous person who has had a positive impact in coming forward. "Whilst there were some discrepancies in his evidence - almost inevitable when recalling pressured events from three years in the past - I found Mr Scrafton to be entirely credible," he said. "His legacy is that in future the Government will find it harder to mislead the people and harder to conscript an army of Ministerial and departmental staff to keep a serious falsehood from being corrected. Mr Scrafton should be congratulated for that." Copies of Senator Bartlett's 3 pages of additional comments from the report are available on request. Media Contact - Rowena Bew - 0400 729 555