23 Mar 2006

Australia's policy on Papua mystifies some after asylum seekers get temporary protection

8:38 pm on 23 March 2006

Australia has granted temporary visas to all but one of a boatload of asylum seekers from the Indonesian province of Papua.

The group of 43 arrived in Australia's Far North in January and were quickly flown to remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

They wanted refugee status saying they faced persecution in Papua.

Jakarta had wanted the group to be sent back and a senior MP immediately called Canberra's move an unfriendly gesture.

But the Australian Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, says the protection cases were decided on their merits.

Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle, a staunch opponent of the detention of the asylum seekers, says she wants the Australian Government to explain its incongruous positions on Papua.

"Because you can't on one hand recognize that the indigenous people of Papua are faced with oppression at the hands of the Indonesian military and yet on the other hand continue to support the circumstances which allow this oppression to occur. So I will be asking the Government if it can explain this incongruity in their position."