1 May 2006

Australia's Immigration Minister comes under attack over comments on Papuans

7:58 am on 1 May 2006

The leader of the Australian Green Party, Bob Brown , has described comments by the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, against West Papuans as ignorant and inexcusable.

Ms Vanstone wrote an article in the weekend Australian newspaper in which she described the Papuan call for independence racist.

Senator Brown says the claim that Papuans are racist because they want separation from Indonesia leads inevitably to the absurdity of labelling the East Timorese, Tibetans or Taiwanese as racist too.

He said the Minister's claim that the Papuans cause is toxic would mean that the cry for freedom itself is toxic.

Senator Brown called on Senator Vanstone to explain why the Indigenous West Papuan population of 1.2 million had grown so little since 1969 while Papua New Guinea's population had grown fourfold to more than 5 million.