The Guardian August 29, 2001


Profits first, last and always

The mandatory detention of refugees is being carried out under the guise 
of a battle against people smugglers. In reality it is a systematic and 
ruthless mechanism for the provision of the raw the material needed as the 
source of profit by private prison corporations  human beings. The holy 
of holy's for this government is profits, first, last and always.

The Howard Government's criminal and inhumane immigration policy ensures 
that refugees coming to Australia are immediately turned into fodder for 
Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), the managers of all Australia's 
refugee detention centres.

Mandatory detention ensures the desired outcome every time. It has just now 
led to the creation of 3000 temporary places for the incarceration of 
refugees, a situation which creates overcrowding in cruel and dangerous 
conditions. Watch for proposals from the Government for the construction of 
new centres, paid for by taxpayers and run for profit by ACM on contract to 
the Government. 

The "people smugglers" Immigration Minister Ruddock harps about are, if 
anything, a feeder line to this lucrative business of incarcerating asylum 
seekers  entire generations, from new born babies to the aged, all locked 
behind fences, mistreated by guards and sentenced to jail terms in state 
prisons for escaping.

It is the profit bottom line which gives Ruddock the hide to call a man a 
liar who committed suicide because for five years the government had 
refused to let his family join him. 

A main reason given by the Immigration Department for blocking Shahraz 
Kiane's attempt to have his family come from Pakistan was the cost to 
government of taking care of his daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

Quite a contrast to the Government singing the praises of the family unit 
as the foundation block of society.

Now the Government intends introducing even more restrictive and brutal 
laws, including the power to strip search detainees, further restrict their 
access to judicial proceedings and to narrow the definition of what 
constitutes a refugee.

All this is not to say that the Government is not also motivated by racism. 
At a national conference of Aboriginal leaders in Sydney recently Ruddock, 
who attended as Reconciliation and Aboriginal Affairs Minister, was nailed 
down for his record as Immigration Minister by participants angry at the 
Government's refusal to recognise the reality of the Stolen Generations of 
Aboriginal children.

Said one participant, "You are descendants of the first fleet of illegal 
boat people and how dare you treat the migrants who come here in this way."

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