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Scrap it! Pacific solution costly and dangerous.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats Immigration Spokesperson

23 October 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/ 506


Pacific Solution costly and dangerous

The Australian Democrats have again called on the Federal Government to scrap the Pacific Solution.

Democrats’ Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, who served on the Senate Select Committee inquiry into a Certain Maritime Incident, said, “The Pacific Solution policy, surrounded by so much tragedy, cannot be considered ‘successful’ just because refugee claims are no longer processed onshore.

“There is no doubt the Pacific Solution policy endangers lives and adds to human suffering,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The Senate report tabled today proves the Government was judging its success on the wrong criteria.

“The only gain was political point scoring for the Coalition before a Federal election. The policy was an election campaign built on former Minister Reith’s falsehoods about asylum seekers.

“Fundamental to the Government’s border protection regime is a lack of respect for the value of human life and human rights. This was exposed in relation to SIEV 4, SIEV 6 and SIEV 10 and it is my belief, was integral to the agencies’ response to intelligence about SIEV X.

“If the SIEV X had been intercepted by an Australian vessel before it sank, the policy of deter, detect and deny meant that the first action when confronted with a grossly overloaded boat, would not have been to ensure the safety of those on board, including 70 children, but to turn it around and

make it sail back to Indonesia,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The Pacific Solution policy institutionalises systematic abuse of human rights and flaunts domestic and international law.”

Senator Bartlett said the eight-month committee inquiry had been useful in revealing the many problems with the Pacific Solution and confirming Government lies about children overboard, however an independent judicial inquiry is still needed.

“All asylum seekers and refugees should be returned to Australia for processing as they are in legal limbo.

“The Pacific Solution has been exposed as an outrageous misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Government cannot talk about spending more on Defence while they waste funds and resources on a policy that does nothing to increase the security of Australia,” concluded Senator Bartlett.

To arrange interview with Senator Bartlett contact Daele Healy on (02) 6277 5724 or Marianne Dickie on 0407 573 729