Page 3515 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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MS MacDONALD: But Mr Pratt was.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Pratt did, but no-one said he was impartial.

MR SPEAKER: Order! This is not a conversation; this is a debate.

MS MacDONALD: I was making the point, through you, Mr Speaker, to Mrs Dunne that if Dr Donnelly is going to come out and make all these points he needs to make it quite clear; and other people who quote him need to make it quite clear, what stance he takes.

Mr Scott Parkin

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.10): In June this year a man came to Australia to do the kinds of things that tourists love to do here. During his holiday, he camped in the Whitsundays; he snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, which he described to a friend as “like swimming in my aquarium”; he considered and refused a job on a crocodile farm near Innisfail; he worked as a willing worker on organic farms near Brisbane. He planned to go from Australia to New Zealand for six weeks, then have a month in South East Asia before heading home to Houston, Texas. Who is he?

To the embarrassment of most Australians, 10 weeks into his holiday, his plans were short-circuited. He found himself a person of interest to ASIO and refused a request, which he was assured was voluntary, to come and have an interview. A few days later he was sitting having a coffee in the Kaleidoscope Cafe in Brunswick when 10 men walked in. A moment later he rang his friend to say that he had been detained by the AFP and immigration agents. He was taken to Carlton west station and then parked in maximum security lockdown and solitary confinement at the Melbourne Prisoner Assessment Centre. Not only that, he was lobbed with a bill for $11,000 for accommodation and the fares for him and two guards back to the United States.

Many people have asked the vexed question: “Why was this man, who was holidaying in Australia”—something that I thought we want people to do—“detained and deported?” The answer must lie in a very broad and political interpretation of laws that the federal government wants to strengthen. Scott Parkin was a tourist who believed in non-violent activism against injustice. Some of his Aussie friends are social change activists, and they invited him to run workshops and attend conferences and events opposing the Forbes global CEO conference in Sydney in late August.

Scott Parkin works for a United States airline, sourcing parts and repairs, and teaches American history part time at a Houston community college, which is equivalent to one of our TAFE colleges. He was given a visa to come to Australia after an interview with an Australian immigration official, who questioned him at some length about his dressing as Tony the Tiger at a demonstration outside Exxon-Mobil’s AGM in 2003, for which he was arrested for civil disobedience.

Scott Parkin is also quite active in making people aware of the role of Halliburton in the rebuilding of Iraq. He opposed that war. He describes himself as “a non-violent person, a peace activist, I organise peace events, I do talks”. That person could have been me. It

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