A Denial of Basic Rights

One Man's Web > Politics and Ethics > Australia and the refugees > A Denial of Basic Rights

This was reported in The Australian Scrapbook on the News (Australia) website on May 07, 2003

.Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser commented on elements of racism in the Howard Government's asylum-seeker policy.

THE administration of the policy of compulsory detention can be compared in some ways (with) the administration of the White Australia Policy. Its proponents are as wrong as Robert Menzies was wrong in 1949 when he defended the White Australia Policy.

The Government, I believe, is blind to the concern, to the fears, to the hopes and the reality of individuals in today's world as it pursues its policy of compulsory, mandatory, non-reviewable detention with vigour and, if necessary, with force.

Evil may be too strong a word to use in relation to [Australia's detention centres], but the way the policy is carried out denies the basic rights of asylum-seekers. It's contrary to international conventions to which Australia committed itself as far back as 1954, and I think there's a significant element of racism in the policy.

I've come to hate any element of racism or sectarianism because whether you go to Africa or whether you go to the Balkans or other parts of the world, so much evil is done in the name of racism and the name of sectarianism, and if it raises its head anywhere I just believe it must be opposed.

I don't see any sign that either the Government or the Labor Party would change the policy in ways that I would regard as adequate and significant.,

There are two comments I would add for reflection before the next elections. The Labor Party, as distinct from some of its members, .is exactly as he says.:- there will be no changes. Labor has been a rubber stamp for the Government with regards to refugees. Don't vote Labor if you care for refugees.

The other thing is that Fraser was apparently asked what had caused him to change so much as he became more vocal on human rights. He said he had not changed at all. The clear implication is that as a nation we have changed and become less concerned for some people. 



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