Saturday, September 10, 2005

Well Done Amanda!!

It was a great honour of mine to be an official guest as the City of Sydney Councillor when Senator Amanda Vanstone spoke at a cocktail party last night. Fresh from her razor wire experience (note picture above) Amanda spoke passionately about practical reconciliation as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Amanda is a long time friend and supporter of mine and a great liberal. It is good that both Labor and Liberal politics agreed to abolish ATSIC and to divert the squandered funds into direct assistance for the disadvantaged aboriginal communities. Reassuringly that bipartisan action was supported by many Aboriginal Australians. Well done Amanda for taking away that razor wire too. We need more Liberals and liberals like my friend Senator Vanstone.

From SHM Friday. Vanstone joins Villawood razor gang

Authorities today began removing one of the most potent symbols of Australia's mandatory detention policies - the razor wire topping the fences at immigration detention centres.
Donning gloves and protective goggles, immigration minister Amanda Vanstone used wire snippers to cut away a small section of razor wire from a perimeter fence at Villawood Detention Centre.
"The move along with new landscaping works around the perimeter fencing will change the face and feel of the centre to both detainees and visitors."
Responding to a suggestion by protesters that the wire-cutting was a political stunt, Ms Vanstone said: "Well it amazes me. Are the protesters actually suggesting we leave the razor wire there? I don't think so."
The wire-cutting ceremony was delayed when protesters tried to enter the detention centre.
Fewer than 40 boat people remained in detention in Australia, Ms Vanstone said.
The move - the latest in a string of measures designed to soften the government's approach to asylum seekers, received a mixed response from refugee advocates.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the removal of the razor wire was a "cosmetic" measure.
"We need the policies to be cut - removing the razor wire doesn't remove the fences. It's completely cosmetic - it's a publicity stunt."
Mr Rintoul said refugees should be granted permanent protection - not temporary protection visas.
However, Refugee council of Australia director Margaret Piper welcomed the move.
"The environment at Villawood has become progressively oppressive with separation of sections, high razor-wire fences and highly visible security.
"Any step to make the environment less oppressive and less intimidating are very much welcomed."
Razor wire will remain around areas of detention centres that hold criminal detainees.