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Navy being used to political ends - Brown.

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Wednesday, 31 October 2001

Navy Being Used To Political Ends - Brown

The communications ban on naval personnel involved in blockading asylum seekers is for political purposes, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"It tramples on the concept of an open, honest flow of information to the Australian public. This is not war. Mr Howard is using the navy to establish a pre-election blockade to curry political favour," Senator Brown said.

"His ban on personnel sending emails or digital photos home is a violation of both the sailor's rights and the right of the nation to know what is happening. It is manipulation of the news, especially as no independent observers are on the ships. It is in line with the government's refusal to release video film of the alleged pushing of children off a boat 2 weeks ago.

"That news from Indonesia that a ship off Lombok had not been hijacked shows how easily headlines can be wrong where confirmation is impossible to get. But Prime Minister Howard's policy of deliberately censoring the open flow of news goes against core tenets of Australian democracy," Senator Brown said.

Further information: Ben Oquist 02 6277 3170 or 0419 704 095

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