Spin Doctoring at its Worst 

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People Smuggling... or People First?

The Australian Government's spin-doctoring of reality to gain electoral advantage at the expense of refugees.

Reflections on Eleanor Hall's interview of John Menadue on The ABC's World Today program (hyperlink as at November 11 2001)

Eleanor Hall asked John Menadue how we should be stopping people smuggling.  Agreeing it needed policing he said "my concern is it's all out of proportion. This is a quite trivial problem. The Government has a humanitarian refugee program of 12,000 people. If more come in by boat than are processed overseas, it makes no difference to the total number. It's just that we are over-reacting for awful political advantage to the people coming by boat.

The Government says that these people are jumping the queue. I've had experience in immigration and refugees, and the feature of refugee flows is they are chaotic. People come from everywhere. It is a lottery. There is no queue and I think the Government is misleading us to think that there is a queue."

 Mr Menadue also said that it is misleading of the Prime Minister to concentrate on the people smuggling problem. He said what we are really doing is "punishing the victims of drought, war and persecution and rape......  if I was a desperate father in Afghanistan, I would scrape together what money I could and get some or all of my family away from the Taliban. And if necessary, I'd pay a people smuggler to do it.

"People that are desperate really don't have a choice. And comfortable people in Australia shouldn't point the finger at people who have got to make hard and heart-wrenching decisions about themselves and their children and their family."

I can't help but agree with Menadue.  People smuggling is a problem.  It rips people off.  People drown, just as they did in the days of the Indo Chinese boat people.  But Australia is showing a lack of compassion.  It is impossible to escape the feeling that these people, from the Tampa onwards, have been a "re-electoral tool" for John Howard and Phillip Ruddock

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