We, the voters, demand free and timely access to objective information on new asylum seeker boat arrivals.
All Australian voters, regardless of political affiliation, expect Governments to provide objective and timely information on important issues. No issue in the past decade has been more important than the arrival of asylum seekers by boat.
The Abbott government came to office making one big promise: they would "STOP THE BOATS." If information on boat arrivals is withheld or massaged for political purposes, how will voters be able to objectively assess the progress of the government's claim?
Mr Abbott has vowed "more forthright" interdictions of asylum-seeker vessels in the seas to Australia's north. The Australian people have the right to demand objective information on the progress and outcome of this claim.
The previous government provided objective statements on every arrival of asylum-seeker boats through the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and provide collated figures on arrivals each month through the Immigration Department.
The decision by the current government to overturn this long established process and withhold this information, citing new arrangements where the issuing of any information is now an "operational matter" for the three-star head of the Coalition's new Operation Sovereign Borders task-force, sets a dangerous precedent.
This action suggests a potential for the militarisation of what should be a transparent political process, with appropriate oversight and scrutiny through the parliament. To restrict information at the discretion of the minister suggests the new government does not trust the Australian people to make up their own minds about this important issue.
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