Federal Government

Government's refugee cartoon misrepresents "true plight"

BUDDIES refugee support group has blasted the Federal Government's latest cartoon anti-boat campaign and website as awful messages that in no way represent the true plight of refugees.

Bronwyn Bell said the depiction of refugees as people shopping around for a better life was completely wrong.

Buddies, founded in Buderim, provides support to refugees. Its members have hosted refugees in their homes and also provide opportunities to better integrate into Australian society.

The Federal Government this week launched a website and has rolled out a cartoon book meant to depict how difficult and dangerous it was to get to Australia by boat and that those who did would be rejected when they arrived.

The book is part of a $2 million contract let to a Hong Kong-based company that has previously given the Government advice that withdrawal from Afghanistan would spark a fresh wave of asylum seekers fearful the Taliban would again seize control of the country.

"These people have no life at all and are desperate to get on a boat,'' Ms Bell said.

"They can't go back. The Government allegedly is saving lives by stopping people from getting on the boats, but doesn't explain how they can claim refugee status here.

"The website makes me ashamed to be an Australian.

"It is not safe in Afghanistan for a lot of Afghanis.

"This is about raising fear levels (in Australia) and then offering solutions to buy votes."

Human Rights Watch Australian director Elaine Pearson told journalists this week that the cartoon book appeared more a rant geared to a domestic audience for political reasons to reinforce the Government's hardline approach to deterring migration.

The book was originally commissioned under the Rudd Labor administration.


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