Heartless Coalition Senators ‘Monitor’ Pacific Islands to Death

Friends of the Earth Australia has expressed its disappointment at the Coalition government’s continuing refusal to address the issue of climate refugees in the Senate debate over the Migration (Climate Refugees) Amendment Bill today.

 

Friends of the Earth Australia

Climate Justice Campaign  

MEDIA RELEASE August 9 th 2007

Heartless Coalition Senators ‘Monitor’ Pacific Islands to Death

Friends of the Earth Australia has expressed its disappointment at the Coalition government’s continuing refusal to address the issue of climate refugees in the Senate debate over the Migration (Climate Refugees) Amendment Bill today.

‘The Howard government has yet again demonstrated its lack of concern for the rights of our Pacific Island neighbours – those from nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, whose island homes are set to become uninhabitable in the next decade,’ said Friends of the Earth climate justice spokesperson Emma Brindal.

‘This is a continuation of the reckless disregard it showed towards our Pacific neighbours when in 2001 the Howard government refused the Tuvaluan government’s request that Australia accept its citizens when Tuvalu becomes uninhabitable. The Howard government showed it again In October 2006, at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, when it refused to meet the government of Tuvalu to discuss the climate change crisis. And it has showed it yet again by refusing to support this bill’ said Ms Brindal.

Senator Kay Patterson claimed that the coalition was assisting Pacific Island nations by monitoring changes in sea level, insisting that Pacific Islanders “need better data collection methods”. 

‘The Coalition’s hollow claims that monitoring is an effective substitute for meaningful action on this issue is as tired as it is irrelevant. Pacific Islanders don’t need more monitoring of climate change impacts. They can already tell the Howard government what is happening right now - their water is being polluted, their crop gardens are being contaminated with salt water so that they can no longer grow food; and people are having to permanently evacuate from their homes’ said Ms Brindal.

‘Hasn’t the Australian government seen what’s happening in Tuvalu?’ asked Fatima Hakaoro, Chairperson of the Tuvaulan Association of Brisbane. ‘It seems they have no hearts’.

‘What Pacific Islanders need is for Australia to face up to our responsibilities by creating a mechanism to enable climate refugees to migrate here and also to funding the relocation of climate refugees who have to move within their own countries’ said Ms Brindal.

Friends of the Earth is also disappointed that the ALP did not support this bill but commends the statement of Senator Claire Moore that ‘it is our clear responsibility as global citizens to support the people living with this reality’ and supports Labor’s current policy to work internationally to develop an international coalition to accept climate refugees.

Friends of the Earth Australia, has also responded angrily to a statement made during the same Senate Debate by Senator Ian Macdonald implying that its sister organisation, WALHI/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia is linked to terrorist organisations.

‘Today’s statement by Senator Macdonald is scandalously and recklessly incorrect’ said Cam Walker, FoE Australia. ‘This is a distraction by a government that doesn't want to deal with its appalling track record on climate refugees’.

For further comment:

Emma Brindal (07) 3846 5793 / 0411 084 727

Cam Walker 0419 338 047

Fatima Hakaoro: 0431 020 834