Monday, October 04, 2004

REFUGEES ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA

Australia goes to the polls on the 9th of October 2004, after a long drawn-out campaign that is full of surprises but short on specifics. The major parties, mainly of the Liberal and Labor persuasions, have remained decidedly silent on the refugee question, despite community concerns.

In fact, the situation has remained virtually unchanged throughout the election campaign, until a few days ago when Mohamed Selhab, a 37-year-old Algerian asylum seeker walked into the office of Ross Cameron, the sitting Liberal member for the Federal seat of Parramatta, and asked for mercy.

Now, as the political pendulum swings towards the sensitive issue of refugees and sylum seekers, some form of assistance is in the offing!

Mr. Selhab’s case is an interesting one, for a variety of reasons. He was freed from detention in 2000 and now facing deportation, despite the fact that his lovely Australian wife is pregnant with their third child.

The point to note is that the Liberal Member of Parliament, Mr. Cameron, who is standing for re-election, pushed the issue on top of the political agenda when he promised to look into Mr. Selhab’s case.

“I am going to write (to the Immigration Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone) seeking a reconsideration of the case in the light of changed circumstances – namely the wife’s pregnancy”, Mr. Cameron told The Australian newspaper, to the utmost delight of the Parramatta Refugee Action Group.
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