Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Poor fellow my country

  • 09 July 2006

Three particular reasons heighten my delight at being in the Brisbane City Hall for the launch of Tampering with Asylum. First, Brisbane is the place of my birth, childhood and initial education. Launching a book on refugees, it is good to return to a place that will always be home. Second, the Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council have done much to make up the shortfall in our welcome to those who have been proved to be refugees fleeing two of the most dreadful regimes in modern history. Third, this is the home of the Tiger XI soccer team, a group of young Hazara men from Afghanistan who fled the Taliban and who now face the review process for their temporary protection visas (TPVs). These young men put a human face on the desperate journeys these people have made to every corner of the earth—journeys that cannot reasonably be classified as queue-jumping searches for migration outcomes or as secondary movement entailing the voluntary surrender of effective protection.

I have five pleas. Could our government stop tampering with the truth? Could our government offer us a coherent rationale for the detention of children? Could our government take a sensible, decent humanitarian approach to the return of those whose TPVs have expired and to the permanent resettlement of those refugees still deserving our protection after three years living in our community? Could our government stop invoking the Christian scriptures in support of such an un-Christian policy? And could we all go and do something about it? It is up  to us to stop our government tampering with asylum.

Truth and consistency of policy are elusive with our developing policy of tampering with asylum. When the Minasa Bone was being towed out onto the high seas in November 2003, lawyers sought the intervention of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory to ensure that the 14 Turkish Kurds could obtain assistance and pursue their asylum claims if they had any, which of course was highly likely.

The Commonwealth saw fit to inform the court by affidavit: ‘On 6 November 2003 the AFP/DIMIA (Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs) team boarded the vessel and conducted interviews with the crew and passengers to elicit intelligence information regarding possible people smuggling.’ Why did the Commonwealth not see fit to inform the court of the interviews conducted or about the information received