News today that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has directed department officials and detention centre staff to refer to asylum seekers as 'illegal' is not only discriminatory but a disturbing move to politicize public servants.
"People seeking asylum - by boat or any other way - are not illegal, they are human beings," said Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne.
"It is not illegal to seek asylum under Australian or international law.
"Dehumanising people is never acceptable.
"Minister Morrison is flouting our laws and forcing Australian public servants to adopt political language in service of the Abbott Government's agenda, not our national best interests.
"They are trying to hide the real story of vulnerable people arriving in Australia needing our help with bureaucratic Friday briefings and officialese.
"It won't work. People seeking asylum deserve our care."
Senator Milne also called on Minister Morrison to answer questions as to what happened on Manus Island during a recent incident at the detention centre there on Friday.
Senator Milne said that Minister Morrison had provided conflicting statements on the incident and that reports that asylum seekers in the centre were locked inside the centre and told to look after themselves were very disturbing.
"How terrifying would it be for people wondering what was going to happen to them as staff locked the gate and ran away?" said Senator Milne.
"Australians deserve a full explanation as to what is happening to these people - not "illegals", or transferees as Minister Morrison would have us refer to them."