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Spending on Afghan crisis should match that of naval blockade.

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Monday, September 03, 2001

Spending on Afghan crisis should match that of naval blockade

Howard politics will outlast legal rights if the Government can delay a final federal court outcome for 7 or more days, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"The Federal court has no jurisdiction in Papua New Guinea, Nauru or New Zealand," Senator Brown said.

"So the issue will continue to do incalculable harm to Australia's reputation. It has overwhelmed the kudos from the Olympics. Our reputation as friendly and fair nation has been lost on the altar of Mr Howard's election instinct.

"Mr Howard should allocate spending equivalent to that of his naval blockade against refugees to alleviate the inhuman conditions in camps housing 1.2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

"The Taliban has parallels with Stalin's USSR. It is a monstrous situation.

At very least the Howard Government should help lead world aid to refugees making the massive exodus from Afghanistan," Senator Brown said.

"The camps are overcrowded, unsanitary, often starved and hopeless for the men, women and children in them. Yet Australia's aid to Pakistan camps this year is miserly -the equivalent of 8 hours spending on the Tampa crisis by Mr Howard.

If he spent as much as he is spending to offload the 433 asylum seekers, hundreds of thousands could be lifted out of abject misery or death," said Senator Brown.

Further information: Ben Oquist 02 62773170 or 0419 704095

Ben Oquist Greens Senator Bob Brown 02 62773170 ph 02 62773185 fx