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Minority parties rubbish Rudd’s PNG plan

Dr Patricia Peterson, leader of the Australian Independents

Kevin Rudd’s Papua New Guinea plan for asylum seekers is receiving vocal opposition from minority parties.

The plan stipulates that immigrants arriving by boat without a visa in Australia will be sent to PNG for processing and resettlement in return for aid.

On the extreme right of the political spectrum, Chairman of the Australia First Party in NSW, Dr Jim Saleam described Mr Rudd’s plan as “unworkable”.

“We’re injecting into New Guinea what might be tens of thousands of people who are also culturally alien to them,” he said. “It’s just throwing a match on fuel – it’s something that can’t work.”

Dr Saleam described asylum seekers as “unarmed combatants” and illegal immigration as a form of ethnic cleansing.

“The problems of the third world can’t be settled by moving the third world here – that’s not on,” he said.

September 7’s Federal Election will be contested by a wide dichotemy of political parties, with over 50 parties registered with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Rod Evans, One Nation’s State Secretary for Queensland, said “we don’t have the economic resources to settle a huge amount of people at the present moment and that’s a fact of life”.

Despite Mr Evans’ anti-immigration platform for election, he said the issue has been politicised.

“It’s all smoke and mirrors – Rudd knows it won’t work,” said Mr Evans. “He’s only trying to appease the population that is in protest about all the illegal immigrants coming into Australia.”

Dr Patricia Peterson, leader of the Australian Independents, criticised Mr Rudd’s plan as lacking compassion and economically ignorant.

“We shouldn’t be exploiting and taking advantage of neighbouring countries whose economic situations are significantly inferior to our own,” she said.

The Australian Independents’ alternative policy is to integrate refugees into Australia and use them to help replenish job vacuums in regional areas.

“If you’re a genuine refugee, you will help us, you will help our economy and we will help you get here safely and start a new life,” said Dr Peterson.

Peter Boyle, national co-convener of the Socialist Alliance, identified Labor’s attempted outflanking of the Liberal Party as detrimental.

“There’s a very good chance that Abbott will be elected nevertheless and the net effect then of what the Labor Party has done … will be to actually have forced the Liberal Party further to the right,” said Mr Boyle.

The Socialist Alliance has a two-fold policy of ending mandatory detention, offshore processing, and taking pre-emptive action against the immediate problem of refugees in transit. Mr Boyle said Australia should uphold its international obligation to protect refugees.

“The politics of this refugee case is not really about refugees,” he said. “It’s about scapegoating, blaming refugees for real economic insecurities that even in a relatively rich country like Australia many people feel.”

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