Write on: Letters to the editor

January 26, 2000

Write on: Letters to the editor

Refugees in 'jails'

Refugees at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney's south-west are living in conditions similar to jails. They are housed in rooms no bigger than cells, with inadequate leisure facilities and without suitable access to information.

As one Iraqi refugee described it, "I came to Australia for protection and they treat me like a dog. It is not right. Here in Stage One they do not have private rooms, no library, no system at all. Especially for the Muslim persons, they get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to pray ... So after that I can't sleep, cannot think properly and in the end I have no human rights here."

This institution receives minimal attention in the mainstream press and most people are not aware it is there. The Villawood site was previously the Westbridge Migrant Hostel.

Villawood consists of Stage One and Stage Two. Stage One is medium-security, housing people with a medical condition, who are difficult to manage or are awaiting deportation. Stage Two is a low-security facility. Most people at Villawood have recently arrived at the airport or have overstayed their visas.

To visit the Villawood Detention Centre, it is necessary to apply in writing to immigration officers present at Villawood. For those who would like to assist refugees at Villawood, they can be contacted at PO Box 413, Chester Hill. The Villawood Detention Centre is at Miawera Road, Villawood. Any help to assist refugees would be appreciated.

Peta Bembrick

Mutual obligation

The Council on the Aging is right to oppose "extended mutual obligation" for welfare recipients. Policy should be guided by principles of aggregate utility and justice.

Since the first dollars people receive contribute far more to their well-being than later dollars, total utility is diminished by denying poor people access to social security, whatever the reason.

Justice requires some unconditional income for all. It is unfair that many receive substantial property income, inheritances and transfers from spouses whilst others don't.

Justice dictates that people should not to be disadvantaged due to factors beyond their control. People should not be worse off due to health misfortune, inability to find work, or because they are not naturally (or due to upbringing) as work-prone as others.

The lives of already improperly underprivileged people should not be rendered even worse by the imposition of additional uncompensated burdens under the "mutual obligation" smokescreen.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere NSW

Oppose the GST

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the impact of the approaching GST. Every day brings fresh evidence of the disastrous effects this tax will have on all sections of our society.

It is becoming clear that compliance will be complicated and expensive; the "black economy" will flourish as never before; the thriving global E-trade will probably not prove taxable at all; and it is almost certain that this impost will not remain at 10%.

We urge all Australians to express their opposition now. Phone your Federal Member. The GST can be reversed.

Faith and Hans Bandler, Pat and Don Brown, Tas Bull, Alf Liebhold, Ken Muir, Pat and Jack Mullins


Calls for the disarming of Falintil in East Timor are unrealistic. Most of the pro-Indonesian militia are in West Timor, out of reach of the occupying army.

Falintil remains the only patriotic armed force in East Timor and as such may be called upon at any time to defend the country. With the turmoil in Indonesia still unresolved, and the power of the military there little diminished, the situation is quite unpredictable.

Col Friel
Alawa NT

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