21 October 2002
Refugees also victims of terror, says Bartlett
By Adrian McGregor
AUSTRALIANS should regard refugees as victims of terrorism the same way they do the nation's dead and missing in Bali, Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett said yesterday.
Speaking on the first anniversary of the sinking of the Siev-X Indonesian refugee boat in which 353 died, Senator Bartlett told a Brisbane rally that terrorists, not refugees, were the threat to Australia.
'Let's go after the terrorists, not refugees,' he said. After a minute's silence to honour Bali's victims, Senator Bartlett said he noted, painfully, the number of young lives lost in Bali, just as with the sinking of the Siev-X.
'Some of the refugees were under 10, precious young lives, fleeing terror, seeking safety, cut short,' he said.
'It's understandable that Australians feel more directly touched when it is Australians who die, but many of the people who drowned on the Siev-X had family and friends in Australia who were deeply touched.'
Senator Bartlett said there were other echoes of Siev-X in the Bali tragedy, such as the failure of communications between Australian intelligence departments.
'There were some worrying signs with Siev-X whether communication lines between services were adequate, and here we have very early indications that there are worrying signs with Bali,' he said.
'Bali highlights that we should be diverting our military and intelligence towards detecting real threats to Australia.'
Senator Bartlett said the children overboard inquiry, which was due to report this week, had found significant problems in communication between national intelligence services.
The Siev-X, a 19m fishing boat, left for Christmas Island with 400 refugees on board on October 18 last year, but sank a few hours into the journey [sic].