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Burke must apologise for slur against Immigration Department.



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Media Centre

Burke Must Apologise for Slur Against Immigration Department

6 December 2006

‘The Opposition immigration spokesman must apologise for his outrageous slur on the department of immigration relating to the Kola family,’ Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, said today.

‘Last year Mr Burke, along with migration agent, Marion Le, accused my department of “knowingly” requesting travel documents for the Kolas from the Department of Foreign Affairs, in names the department “knew were false.’ (Tony Burke, ABC Radio PM, 13/09/05)

Mr Burke also said: ‘The Department of Immigration knows exactly who this couple are. They know that it’s Mr and Mrs Kola, and the concept of coming up with the second identity was only a last ditch effort after a failed attempt at deportation……They had trouble deporting them, so decided to try to revert to what they knew were false names.’ (Mr Burke doorstop, Parliament House, 14/09/06)

Ms Le joined the chorus, saying ‘To my mind that smacks of fraudulently dealing with another government department.’ (ABC radio PM, 13/09/05)

‘These allegations are amongst the most serious that could be levelled against a government department or agency.

‘They go way beyond alleging incompetence. They asserted that my department engaged “knowingly” in a fraud.

‘Both Mr Burke and Ms Le should now know that the claims they made were false.

‘The couple this year finally registered the birth of a child as their son - the son of Venona Vata and Paulin Pali.

‘In other words, they now admit that the Kola identity was a fabrication.

‘The name used to register the child’s birth is the identity the couple carried into Australia. On arrival they claimed those identities were false. Years after visa applications and numerous appeals and reviews, my department sought travel documents from DFAT to remove the couple, originally in the names of the couples’ claimed identity and then subsequently in what was learned to be their true identity.

‘Ultimately, it was established that the couple were indeed Venona Vata and Paulin Pali - the same identities with which they originally arrived and which the couple now admit is their identity.

Senator Amanda Vanstone MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS

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‘Mr Burke and Ms Le must now apologise for their outrageous slur upon officers of my department.

‘It is also incumbent on Mr Rudd - who promised Australians a new leadership style - to demand a public apology from his immigration spokesperson.’

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URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media_releases/media06/v06281.htm Last update: 07 December 2006 at 10:00 AEST