I write in relation to the front page article published on February 10 –
“Don’t send my students back to Nauru.” This article contains serious inaccuracies which create false impressions and would gravely mislead your readers.
Your front page states:
“…principal Paul Dingle risks being jailed to speak out for three asylum seekers….” Later the article goes on
“…he could run foul of the Border Force Act which threatens imprisonment for ‘entrusted persons’ who disclose information about detention centres….”.
These statements are untrue.
Firstly Mr Dingle is not an entrusted person and the Act does not apply to him.
Secondly, both I, and the Commissioner of the Border Force, have specifically made clear publicly (see links) that the applicable sections of the Border Force Act do not and will not seek to prevent people discussing border protection policies and expressing their views.
The secrecy provisions are part of the law because the Border Force receives sensitive information from both Australian and international security agencies and this sensitive operational information must be protected in our nation’s interest.
Similar provisions exist in other Commonwealth legislation.
Fairfax Media has reported my comments stating this in July 2015, yet your publications continue to ignore or choose to overlook those comments, preferring misleading headlines such as yesterday.
Your article yesterday opened with the words: “….escorted….by two burly guards.”
Let me quote Mr Dingle’s own words on this, as broadcast on ABC radio:
“……the Age talked about burly people….can I say they’re not burly people. They’re people that work with kids, they deliver them to us. They wait patiently at the end of the day to pick them up to take them home. They’re doing a difficult job and they’re doing it very well. “
The second paragraph of the article then states:
“….when the last bell rings….guards return the students to Broadmeadows detention centre where they live behind barbed wire….”.
The fence surrounding the centre has no barbed wire.
It is unfortunate that The Age seeks to perpetuate a particular one-sided view on these issues rather than fairly and accurately reporting on them.
Finally let me commend Mr Dingle for his work and care for his students, particularly those from Nauru, let me assure him that the government will take a compassionate approach to dealing with these matters and do so on a case by case basis.
I urge you readers to inform themselves on the Border Force Act at the following links –
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection