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Tampa - Mark II

"Papuan boatpeople face the same treatment as the Tampa refugees did under the 2001 Pacific Solution, as the Howard Government moved yesterday to defuse tensions with Jakarta, warning the asylum-seekers they were not welcome in Australia.

John Howard raised the prospect that boatpeople fleeing the troubled Indonesian province would be treated in future in the same way as the 433 refugees picked up by Norwegian container ship the Tampa in 2001.

"I'd be concerned about the abuse of human rights anywhere in the world, and I guess no country is free of human rights abuses, but I do not think it serves anybody's interests for us to encourage in any way the fragmentation of Indonesia," the Prime Minister said.

"That's why I've taken such a strong stand and why I sent such a strong message to the people of West Papua. Do not imagine for a moment we want you to come to Australia."

So write Greg Sheridan and Samantha Maiden in The Australian today.

Whilst Church groups and others are already expressing their concern at the attitude of PM Howard and ignorance of Peter Costello - referring this week to Papua having always been part of Indonesia - it looks like Tampa Mark II is about to be played out and that obnoxious Pacific Solution to be giving a new lease of life. Howard has clearly nailed his odious views to the mask! Human rights? Secondary to other pragmatic considerations.

Read the complete piece from the Oz newspaper here.

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