Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rudd's PNG policy lifts Labor: Newspoll

KEVIN Rudd's tough new stance on asylum seekers has lifted Labor's ratings to its highest level since Julia Gillard's proposal for regional processing in East Timor during the 2010 election.

Mr Rudd announced on Friday that asylum seekers arriving by boat would not be settled in Australia.

Detainees who are found to be refugees could be permanently settled in PNG, while those found not to be refugees could be detained in PNG, returned home if possible or be sent to a third country.

The news has lifted Labor's standings, with the latest Newspoll, in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday, showing support for Labor rose six percentage points to 26 per cent, while the Coalition's dropped 14 points to 33 per cent, compared with February results.

The results were greatest in Sydney's western suburbs where there was a three percentage point rise among ALP voters who believe Labor is best able to handle the issue of asylum seekers.

There was a rise in coalition supporters who now favour the ALP, up from four per cent to seven per cent.

Labor supporters who believed the coalition was best able to handle the task also fell massively from 21 to five per cent.

"Coalition supporters remain overwhelmingly supportive of Tony Abbott's approach to asylum-seekers, with 71 per cent nominating the opposition as the best to handle the issue, down from 80 in February," The Australian said.

"Labor's 26 per cent is the highest in Newspoll surveys since August 2010 when it hit 29 per cent after Ms Gillard announced a plan to establish a regional asylum-seeker processing centre in Dili."


Rudd-effect on the wane as Abbott retains the people's trust

KEVIN Rudd might have turned around Labor's poll performance, but the mystical Rudd-effect may be waning.

According to an exclusive News Corp Australia poll of more than 26,000 readers, trust in Mr Rudd has gone backwards in the past three weeks.

Compared with a similar survey conducted following Prime Minister Rudd taking office on June 26, this week Mr Rudd is considered less trustworthy to sort out any of the major policies including immigration, health, education and the economy.

Almost two-thirds of respondents trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over Mr Rudd to sort out the economy and immigration policy.

Mr Rudd performed best in the area of education, where 27 per cent of respondents trusted him to address the problems. Mr Abbott claimed the trust of 51 per cent of respondents.

Mr Rudd has not been able to shake his negative image with "liar", "arrogant" and "fake" the most common words associated with him.

In comparison, Mr Abbott is considered "honest" and "trustworthy". While also considered "negative", this has not prevented the Opposition Leader from attracting support from 63.8 per cent of survey respondents, more than double the support that Mr Rudd enjoys.

But both Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd are struggling to win over Twitter with the Papua New Guinea immigration policy.

Since the announcement of the policy, Twitter conversations around both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott have been extremely negative, according to News Corp Australia's Twitter analysis tool Poll Pulse.

Poll Pulse measures positive vs. negative sentiment on Twitter. Social monitoring service Topsy.com analyses Tweets containing relevant names and words. Topsy applies an algorithm which decides whether Tweets are positive, negative or neutral. The results are graphed on a scale of -50 (most negative) to 50 (most positive).

Friday's PNG announcement saw a major downturn in the tone of Twitter discussions around the Prime Minister. Mr Abbott's initial, and now qualified, support of the policy has also dragged him into the social media mire.

Today, three days following the announcement, Twitter chatter around both party leaders remains rooted in negative territory.


'Creepy' photos of distraught asylum seekers?

It is just such photos that deter illegals

The Department of Immigration has published photographs of distraught asylum seekers heading for Papua New Guinea, prompting anger on social media, as a missing asylum seeker boat has been found on its way to Christmas Island.

The asylum seekers pictured were on the first boat - carrying 81 mostly Iranian nationals - to arrive in Australia after the new policy of processing and resettling asylum seekers on PNG took effect.

According to the Immigration Department, the group of asylum seekers were told of the new deal between Australia and PNG at North West Point Immigration Detention Centre at Christmas Island.

In a video of the scene at Christmas Island, the woman with her head in her hands in the photo can be seen wiping her eyes.

Immigration Department acting regional manager Steven Karras said the group listened calmly to the message.  "It was apparent to me that they did understand what this message meant," he said.

"I'm sure they’re now thinking about whether it was wise to come in the first place. And I think in fact over the coming days … they will start to contemplate very seriously whether in fact returning home is a better option."

The move to publish the photographs was quickly questioned on Twitter. Asylum seeker NGO, House of Welcome, called the photos "creepy" and "upsetting".

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the pictures were shameful.

Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan said that the department believed the images were "entirely appropriate".

Mr Logan said the department had taken the necessary steps to protect the identity of the asylum seekers involved.

"The opportunity to demonstrate graphically to people considering getting on the next boat is an absolutely vital opportunity for us," he told Fairfax Media.

Mr Logan said that the department regularly documented transfers and made them public, as it thought it was important to be "transparent in the way that we operate".

Mr Logan also said the images helped with the "believability factor" -  getting the message of Australia's changed policy out to people smugglers and facilitators, those considering getting on a boat and disapora communities.  "This is about saving lives at sea," he said.

The woman who is pictured with her head in her hands had been briefed within the previous hour about the transfer to PNG and was waiting for initial checks, Mr Logan said.

It is not known if she was upset because of the PNG transfer or another reason.


Charges in Vic bus abuse on French tourist

THREE people in Melbourne will face court for threatening a French tourist last year during a bus incident that gained international attention.

The incident on a city bus last November had seen the young tourist be told to "speak English or die" and then threatened with having her breasts cut off.

But other shocked passengers filmed those who were threatening the woman and posted the mobile phone footage on YouTube, triggering a social media backlash.

The footage shows passengers continuing to taunt and threaten the woman and her friends for several minutes.

One man can even be heard shouting how everyone on the bus wanted to kill her and she "would have to get off eventually".

A bus window is smashed as several passengers leave the bus in disgust and keep yelling at the woman.

Victoria Police announced on Monday that three people had been tracked down, interviewed and would be charged on summons.

A police spokeswoman said the three suspects - two men aged 25 and 36, and a 22-year-old woman - will be charged with threatening to inflict serious injury, criminal damage, behaving in an insulting manner and other offences.

The victim of the attack, Fanny Desaintjores, 22, said last year that she had never experienced such hatred before during her three-month holiday.

But she also didn't think it reflected wider Australian attitudes towards foreigners.

"We find idiots everywhere, even in France," she wrote on YouTube in response to the posted video.

The accused trio will appear in Moorabbin Magistrates Court on October 1.


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