Playing fair with asylum seekers
Marilyn Shepherd
Canberra Times, Internet Your Say
Friday, 11 October 2002

Reading and re-reading the testimony of the Certain Maritime Incident, which became an accidental investigation into SIEVX still continues to throw up questions. As do the denials by Ric Smith, some of which I have already addressed.

The one that springs immediately to mind, but which is not known by the general community is the wording on the pamphlets distributed by Australian agents in Indonesia.

They say 'Stop. Go back. Don't go further into the trap'. We need the answers to just whose trap it was. We also need to know if any instructions were given to seek out the Australian paid for UNHCR office or the International Office of Migration to seek asylum status or repatriation.

I can't find any mention of those offices and we need to know why not.

The government always insists that asylum-seekers should 'follow the rules', 'play fair', wait in the queue. Yet the government has at no time played fair with the asylum seekers.

Ric Smith perhaps could now provide the answers called for and help to exonerate those Australian departments and agencies he blandly claims were in no way responsible.

After all this man will be the new civilian head of Defence and we need to have some confidence in his ability to be in charge.

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