27 May 2010


The Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney has condemned the Federal Liberal Party’s recent television advertising campaign broadcast in Western Australia and Queensland and called for an immediate withdrawal of the campaign.

"This ad campaign is a prime-time attack on asylum-seekers, and can only be regarded as another low in Australian politics," said ERC Director, Phil Glendenning.

Against the background of a small asylum-seeker boat in open ocean, the ads show a map upon which five large red arrows progressively stream towards Australia from the north-west – with the arrows bearing the names: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

Recent months have seen the issue of asylum seekers in Australia return to prominence in the media.

The Australian government has been criticized as being in breach of its own and international law by its decision to suspend the processing of some claims for asylum while the Leader of the Opposition first signaled a return to the shameful policies of the previous government in a recent interview in which he used (deliberately?) inflammatory and misleading terms such as 'illegal boat arrivals' and 'jumping the queue' before subsequently announcing that if elected later this year a Liberal government would re-instate the policies of the previous government; policies described by a dissident member of his own party as ’cruel’ and ‘regressive’.

As the Australian Bishops pointed out in a recent media release "Refugees are desperate human beings who have suffered great trauma. As a nation, we are called to respond with justice and compassion"

The Bishops called on the government to lift the suspension of processing for Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers and for all sides of politics to show positive leadership on refugee policy, pointing out that political leaders have a particular responsibility to avoid demonizing or stereotyping asylum seekers.

The Bishop’s went on to say that "Australia is not being inundated by people seeking asylum. In fact we receive only a small proportion of the world’s displaced people. The greatest burden in giving shelter to refugees is borne by countries that are far poorer and more crowded than Australia".

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