Member of The Greens, Candidate for Fadden 2004, campaigner against war and pro refugee rights (Willy Bach)
I received this:
Something rather astounding happened yesterday. Mr Laurie Ferguson, member for Reid, was appointed as the shadow minister for Immigration. This made Laurie responsible for asylum seekers and refugees on behalf of the ALP.
Below is the article from The Age of this morning. I expect this to be the first article of many - I think the fury of the refugee movement with this appointment, and Laurie's uninformed and dismissive comments to Meaghan Shaw of The Age yesterday urgently call for our concerted action.
First, Mr Ferguson taints the refugee movement as a bunch of people who reject processing of asylum seekers. Secondly, he displays bluntly stupid arrogance on his first day in office, by telling The Age that he is sick of 'being lectured to by people', as if that has happened to a sickening degree on his first day as Immigration shadow minister. And thirdly, he vilifies 'unannounced boat arrivals' as people who use the court system for selfish reasons. It seems clear that Laurie either hasn't got a clue, or that he simply does not want to know, that more than 90% of those boat arrivals were shown to be genuine refugees.
My suggestion is that we start on a massive campaign of 'Educating Laurie'. Please write to him, fax him, email him, and send him the true story, and send him your opinion. Send him letters from detainees on Nauru, on Christmas Island, in Baxter, tell him the facts as you see them. Let him know that fifteen thousand Australians are prepared to go on a limb to debunk the myths, clearly established in Laurie's mind.
You'll find Mr Ferguson's contact details here.
The Web Log
One of the posts in the bLog is my email communication from last January with Laurie Ferguson. You'll find it here.
Ferguson sounds harsh note on refugees
Labor's new immigration spokesman has clashed with refugee advocates, claiming they would have a more realistic view if they lived in areas where most refugees resided.
Laurie Ferguson said some advocates failed to understand that 'a sizeable proportion' of asylum seekers had fraudulent cases and manipulated the legal system to stay in Australia.
'I get a bit sick of being lectured to by people,' Mr Ferguson said. 'What I do question is that people who don't want any rules, don't want any controls, don't want any checking (of refugee claims) are usually people whose contact is limited to a few niche cases that they get very emotionally involved in. These people lack knowledge, quite frankly, of the broader issues.'
Mr Ferguson's Sydney electorate of Reid has 25 per cent of Australia's temporary protection visa holders living there.
Mr Ferguson yesterday supported Labor's immigration policy, including mandatory detention, but used more hardline language than predecessors Stephen Smith and Julia Gillard.
Some of Mr Ferguson's responses echoed the Government's line on refugees, including its suggestion that some asylum seekers were 'queue-jumpers' taking the place of genuine refugees.
Mr Ferguson said Labor would consider any Government legislation that expedited the processing system, but not laws that would cut people's rights.
He also said asylum seekers could not be released into society while their claims were being processed without 'genuine guaranteed solutions' from refugee advocates that they would turn up to court cases.
'All international experience shows that if people have not got a strong case, they have no real wish to remain part of the system and basically disappear into society,' he said.
Refugee advocate Jack Smit said he was appalled by the 'ignorance and arrogance' of Mr Ferguson. He said 93 per cent of asylum seekers were found to be refugees.
Willy Bach's letter to Mark Latham (please write to him too):
I thought that it was a dreadful day for Australia when you lost yet another election to John Howard's Liberals.
I did not imagine that things could get much worse, unless it was at their hands. I hardly thought that you would make thoroughly unsuitable people members of the shadow cabinet. I am ashamed to hear the things that Laurie Ferguson has said about asylum seekers. He is no better than Philip Ruddock.
Please sack Laurie Ferguson today. He is a disgrace to your party. Thousands of people will now realise that it was useless to vote Labor when they could just as easily have voted Green and put your lot last together with the racist Liberals. Laurie has just lost you all credibility.
You made few comments on refugee issues during the election. Why am I not surprised?