'Tampa' electorate up for grabs


Tight contests in the federal election may be swayed by candidates’ positions on refugee policy, according to Howard Glenn, national director of A Just Australia.

A Just Australia today presented the results of an internet petition, initiated by its patron Malcolm Fraser, to the leaders of the major parties in the coming federal election.

The petition, which calls for the removal of children from immigration detention and other refugee policy reforms, was signed by 51,685 people.

Releasing the petition, Mr Glenn said that supporters of just refugee programs represented a sizable electorate which is highly focussed on what candidates say about the issue.

‘When Mr Fraser initiated this petition last November, there were 194 children detained as a result of Australia’s policies – today that number has fallen to 82’, Mr Glenn said.

‘Most of those removed from immigration detention were granted refugee status “ they just had to wait so long for it. The children who remain on Nauru after three years, those on Christmas Island for over a year, and those in long term detention in Port Augusta and Baxter are still of great concern to us.

‘Those who were granted refugee status still have no security, being only on temporary refugee visas,’ Mr Glenn said.

The text of the petition and the number of signatories has been sent to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the National Party, the Minister for Immigration, and the leaders of the Democrats and the Greens.

‘The PM and others have speculated about a hung parliament. In a tight election, [our]supporters will be influential in the outcome of the overall results – there is effectively one whole electorate of voters who are looking closely at the candidates and parties in this campaign’, Mr Glenn said.

‘So far 88 candidates have signed the refugee guarantee “ to commit to supporting better refugee policy. In less than a week, voters from almost every electorate have also signed to say that these issues are important to them.

‘Candidates with a strong commitment to the guarantee will get the benefit of the support of the ‘electorate of Tampa”, Mr Glenn said.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.