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Alexander Downer: loose with the truth on border security.

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Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


The events on Melville Island last week and the extraordinary sequence of events that have followed go to the heart of the Howard Government’s breach of truth and trust with the Australian people.

And again Foreign Minister Downer is in the centre of the action.

On 9 November, Mr Downer claimed of the 14 Kurds who landed on Melville Island:

“They didn't apply for asylum when they were in contact with Australian authorities or with the Australians themselves on Melville Island.”

But forward the clock a few days and now the People Smuggling Task Force has confirmed that the 14 Turkish asylum seekers actually did seek asylum.

Does the Howard Government tell the truth on anything? Mr Downer said on 12 November that: “The advice I had on Sunday through the talking point from the Department of Immigration was that they hadn't [sought asylum]…" A key question that Mr Downer needs to answer is: did he at any point before making the statement on 9 November that the 14 Kurds had not sought asylum, ask specifically whether they had sought refuge in Australia or not?

The Australian people have been given more versions of what happened on Melville Island from Downer and Vanstone than they can count on their fingers and toes.

It is breathtaking that there could be further prostitution of the truth on such matters given the extraordinary revelations of the events that transpired during the children overboard affair two years ago.

This is a government that will do anything and say anything to obtain political advantage.

Ends14 November 2003

Further information: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823