Election 2001

Response of Australian Greens to NSW Human Rights Education Committee's survey:

(the response below was provided by Leonie Harrington, Peter Macdonald's campaign office).

Peter Macdonald supports a Bill of Rights and is committed to working to promote freedom from discrimination. He is already working with aboriginal communities on preparing a "Health Plan" and he has a good understanding of the issues. Please find attached media release that details Peter's proposals for asylum seekers. A balance between the gobal economy, the environment and the social good is indeed critical, and if elected to Federal Parliament he will, as a true non-aligned Independent, work with the government of the day to achieve this balance.

Peter Macdonald has called on the major political parties to stop political point scoring and engage in a destructive blame game following the tragic loss of lives of asylum seekers off the coast of Indonesia. "Australia must immediately adopt a truly humanitarian position, engage in constructive dialogue with Indonesia and work with the UN to develop a global response to this growing problem. Asylum seekers, regardless of the Australian Governments attempts to deter them, will continue to try to get to Australia by any means."

Dr Macdonald proposes the following steps:

· Australia must provide more development assistance to Iran and Pakistan, where there are more than three million refugees, to improve conditions in camps to help stem the exodus of these people to countries like Australia;
· The Government must encourage and support a UN-sponsored resettlement program and accept a fair quota of refugees as part of its contribution to a global resettlement plan;
· The Government must rebuild its bilateral relationship with Indonesia and engage in high-level diplomatic dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to achieve a cooperative approach to the assessment of refugees in camps. Australia also needs to seek urge Indonesia to further crack down on people smugglers. To simple turn the boats around resolves nothing;
· Christmas Island should become an initial assessment centre to identify the genuine refugees and weed out those who are not for immediate deportation. Innocent refugees should not be penalised because of the presence of small numbers of opportunists or people with dubious backgrounds;
· Limit the appeal process by law to stop the log-jam of people tying up the appeals system;
· Once refugee status has been established for those seeking asylum, they should be helped to assimilate into the wider community. Detention centres should only be used for the few people whose claims require further assessment or those who are likely to abscond.

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