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Getting the truth out of Mr Downer on Vivian Alvarez-Solon is like getting blood out of a stone.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security

25 JULY 2005

GETTING THE TRUTH OUT OF MR DOWNER ON VIVIAN ALVAREZ-SOLON IS LIKE GETTING BLOOD OUT OF A STONE

It was claimed in a Senate Inquiry today that Mr Downer’s Department became aware of the location where Vivian Alvarez-Solon had been wrongfully deported in September 2003.

It has been claimed by Ms Alvarez Solon’s lawyers that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade obtained information from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) which detailed where she had been given hospice upon her arrival in Manila in July 2001. It was the same place she was found in April 2005.

If these claims are verified it raises questions over what Mr Downer and his Department did between September 2003, when DFAT obtained Ms Alvarez-Solon’s file, and April 2005, when she was finally found by a Catholic Priest.

Mr Downer’s account of his Department’s involvement in this case had been that neither he nor his officials new anything about the case until April 2005.

However in response to Parliamentary scrutiny Mr Downer changed his position and confirmed that Queensland Police had notified DFAT in September 2003 that Ms Alvarez was an Australian - leaving open the question as to what Mr Downer’s Department then did to try and track her down.

The Government has also claimed to date that it did not know about Ms Alvarez Solon’s whereabouts.

But how does this explain today’s claims in the Senate Inquiry that DFAT in September 2003 obtained knowledge of where Ms Alvarez Solon was deported to? If these claims are accurate what did DFAT then do over the following 18 months to try and contact her - let alone return her to Australia.

Mr Downer must answer these questions - not fob them off has he has done so far as if it’s all a bit of a joke.

Ends. 25 July 2005

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823