ABC reports "former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser has accused the Federal Government of changing its policy on processing asylum seekers to suit Indonesia. Treasurer Peter Costello has signalled the Government is considering sending all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia to offshore processing centres as the Government tries to improve relations with Indonesia...Under the Cabinet's changes, an applicant's claim for asylum be treated the same as others in overseas UN camps and review processes under Australian law would not apply.
Mr Fraser says while the policy changes might be in step with the mood of the public, it is critical the Government should lead and not follow in certain decisions.
"If they are to follow then it will be a question of pandering to the worst instincts of Australians rather than encouraging the best instincts of Australians," he said."
This blog has repeatedly pointed to the low wedge politics Howard resorts to whenever the public spotlight is shon on his government's flagrant disregard for human rights in this area. The buttons are pushed, the polls go up, and the ignorance and fear of a large slice of the voting public are shamelessly manipulated for political advantage.
I met a Bosnian muslim the other day, an artist and master house painter, who has been an Australian citizen for many years. He despairs over the way muslims have been demonised by these policies. He is wary of mentioning his origins around his workplace because of the anger and bigotry he hears all the time. People escaping tyrannical regimes and war zones have been subjected to vilification and punishment by an Australian government shoring up its fading popularity by being tough on 'boat people'. Now we are going to adopt a similar approach to Papuans fleeing systematic abuses in their homeland.
In the name of natural justice I hope the people responsible for this disgrace will be held accountable one day. Australia should be referred to the UN for serial violations of the rights of refugees.