Claire Bruhns
Wednesday, 27 November 2002
Canberra Times, Internet 'Your Say'

Re: John Daley "Australians don't care about Tampa anymore."

John Daley asserts that 99.97% of the Australian public simply do not care about the Tampa crisis. I wonder what evidence he bases this figure on? From my analysis of a variety of polls, the percentage of Australians who "care about refugee issues" ranges from 28-32%, to occasionally a majority, depending on the question asked. For example on the ninensm poll, a majority believed the Government had lied about the children being thrown overboard and a majority were against with-holding vaccination from adult asylum seekers in detention.

Admittedly, in answer to most questions concerning asylum seekers the percentage of Australians who are in support of more humane policies hovers around 30%. However, this is ONE THIRD of the Australian public. I consider it very significant that one in every three Australians is not happy with the current policies. The fact that 2 out of every 3 Australians are happy for the Government to compromise the human rights of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet does not mean that the policies are right.

My experience is that there are many more people out there who feel concerned about Tampa, mandatory detention, SIEV X etc, but have yet to go on the public record by voting in a poll, writing a letter to the editor or attending a demonstration.

These people make up what I believe is a silent majority and I meet them when I help out at Refugee stalls in shopping centres and at public events. Such concerned people quietly talk of their grief for asylum seekers and their shame and powerlessness in the face of unprecedented Government politicisation of a human rights issue.

Daley's other worrying statement "there is a significant school of thought that the whole 'refugee/illegal immigrant deal' to Australia from Indonesia was financed through Al Queda and JI elements as a means towards creating anti-Western feelings and fuelling the fires of hostility."

Instead of claiming this position as his own, Daley asserts that it is a "significant school of thought." Who are the illustrious analysts proposing these ideas? Perhaps Daley could cite them so their evidence can be assessed.

He appears to be contradicting the Head of ASIO, who stated categorically that no boat person, who had gone through the application process in detention, had been found to pose a security risk.

Daley asserts that the whole "Indonesia to Australia deal" was financed by terror groups. Was the Head of ASIO wrong?

I wonder whether Daley's comments reveal more about his own personal prejudices than anything else. I certainly haven't seen any evidence to support his assertions.

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