Boat people

Boat people

George F. Simpson

John McLean's claim (December/January AD2000) that Afghan and Iraqi boat people had no chance to apply for residence through proper channels is hard to believe. These people did not come directly from their homelands, but passed through other countries, including Indonesia, where appropriate enquiries could have been initiated.

Pope John Paul's quotation is not appropriate to this debate. The current immigration debate is not about the number of immigrants, but about common justice in their selection and processing. Immigration Department figures tell us that last year eight thousand poor souls, barely surviving the squalor of overseas refugee camps, were denied admittance to Australia because "queue jumpers" took their places. Who is responsible for closing the door on these foreigners who came knocking?

Australia can be proud of its history in the matter of resettlement. On a population basis we are second only to Canada in immigrant intake. Moreover, we can be proud of our record in accepting immigrants into mainstream Australian life.

GEORGE SIMPSON
North Blackburn, Vic

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