27 Jun 2013

Australian refugee agency says Senator's claims won't wash

7:42 pm on 27 June 2013

The spokesperson for an Australian agency helping asylum seekers says calls by the Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, for tougher laws to stop people qualifying for refugee status are just spin.

Mr Carr claimed this week the thousands of people arriving by boat are not genuine refugees but from majority religions or ethnic groups and are really economic migrants.

But the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Pamela Curr says most of the people seeking refugee status are Hazaras from Afghanistan, Tamils from Sri Lanka, Kurds from Iraq and Iran, and Iranians.

Ms Curr says they are from countries where there is conflict based on political allegiance or religious affiliation.

"For that reason people are fleeing and if we look at the refugee convention we see that the five refugee grounds embrace people fleeing persecution based on their membership of certain groups, their political affiliation or their religious grouping. So Senator Carr is trying to spin something that just won't wash."