I often wonder whether Tony Abbott has problems listening to what people tell him, or problems with the truth. Both, I suspect, but I only have proof of the latter. His latest (that I know of) is there for all to see on none other than the LNP website, posted on 28 March. Abbott lied when he said:
. . . yesterday we had the 600th boat under the current government. That’s 35,000 illegal arrivals by boat.
How many times does Abbott have to repeat that lie: illegal arrivals? And how many times does he need to be told that they are not illegal?
Here’s Leigh Sales trying to tell him that they are not illegal (watch after 6:00 minute mark).
And here’s Lisa Wilkinson trying to tell him too.
But in the same week as the above clip, despite knowing the truth, Mr Abbott toughened his rhetoric against asylum seekers, again referring to them as illegal
. . . more than 2000 are ”coming illegally to this country” every month without papers.
”The people who have come illegally to this country need to know that they are breaking our laws, that they are, if I may say so, taking advantage, unfair advantage of our decency as a people,” Mr Abbott said.
”It is illegal to come to Australia without papers, without proper documentation, without adhering to the normal requirements that we expect of people coming to this country,” he said.
So not only does Tony Abbott lie about the legal status of asylum seekers, he also lies about the law:
ANU international law professor Don Rothwell said it was clear it is not illegal to enter Australia without a visa and seek asylum.
”Any person who arrives at Australia’s borders, whether it be at an airport or harbour or being intercepted by navy patrols is entitled to present an asylum claim to Australia,” he said.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said it was not illegal under Australian or international law to come to Australia and claim asylum.
”That’s been pointed out to Mr Abbott on many occasions. He’s a serial offender at repeating that,” Mr Bowen told ABC radio.
David Manne, the executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre also disputed Mr Abbott’s statement.
”Let me state simply what the law is and the law that we’ve in fact signed up to as a country… every person around the world has the right to seek and access asylum from persecution in another country. It’s not an act which is illegal.”
Human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC in writing about the Myths and facts about boat people tells us that:
Asylum seekers who enter Australia by sea (or plane) without a valid visa are not illegal. They do not break any Australian law by coming here without papers and asking for protection.
The right to enter without prior authorisation is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which Australia helped to draft.
A more in-depth attack on Mr Abbott by Burnside can be found here on The Drum. It makes delicious reading. I’ve been told that Mr Burnside also tweeted Abbott, disputing his claim that asylum seekers are illegal, but I am unable to confirm that.
But the point is this: It is not illegals to seek asylum in this country. Tony Abbott knows that, but he still keeps saying it. So his is obviously lying. Still.