Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights in Sri Lanka (SPUR)

Reg No. A 003 07777 M

PO Box 4066

Mulgrave    VIC 3170

Australia

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Ph:  +61 3 9795 7143 Fax: +61 3 9795 7142 

    

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

10 November 2007

 

Election 2007 – Australian Census Exposes Myths of the Tamil Tiger Lobby

 

One of the media themes being orchestrated by the Tamil Tiger Lobby is that it is capable of influencing the result of the forthcoming Australian Federal Election on 24 November 2007.

 

The objective of this campaign is to create the perception that the Australian Government, present or future, would face an ‘ethnic voter backlash’ if it proscribes the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organisation.  This line has been picked up even by some sections of the mainstream Australian Media.  For example, the ‘Weekend Australian’ of 04 August 2007 carried an article entitled ‘Tiger ban could bite Howard in his seat’, in which it was claimed that the Coalition’s chances in the NSW seats of Bennelong and Parramatta would be jeopardised if it were to proscribe the Tamil Tigers.

 

Much of the ‘Hands off the Tigers’ argument is based on the falsification of electoral strength, and the unsubstantiated premise that most Tamils in Australia support the LTTE, and would therefore vote against any Party that proscribes the organisation.

 

Given the Tamil community  in Australia includes those from the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu as well as Malaysia, Fiji and Sri Lanka, it is highly tenuous, and indeed unfair by the Australian Tamils, to assume that there is majority support for the LTTE which  is listed as a terrorist organisation in many countries. 

 

The following 2006 Census figures released by Australian Bureau of Statistics show the total numbers of persons who claim Tamil ‘Ancestry’ in various geographic areas of Australia.  The table also includes comparative figures of those who claim an Ancestry of ‘Sinhalese’, who form the majority community in Sri Lanka.   These numbers, though not of the actual registered voters, reflect the relative proprtions of the groups.

 

Geographic Area

Sinhalese

Tamil

Australia

73,852

8,897

Victoria

37,394

3,081

New South Wales

21,321

4,331

Queensland

6,183

439

Western Australia

4,444

466

South Australia

1,930

149

Australian Capital Territory

1,881

352

Tasmania

340

46

Northern Territory

366

45

Source – Census 2006 Community Profiles, Australian Bureau of Statistics

 

Even a cursory analysis of the numbers immediately exposes the myth of a Tamil Tiger Electoral Lobby.   Furthermore, the Census figures for some key Federal Electorates confirm that the numbers of pro-LTTE voters who could influence the outcome of even the most marginal seat would be negligible.  Thus, even in NSW electorates such as Parramatta, Greenway, Lowe and Bennelong, the mainstream Sri Lankan community vastly outnumbers the small but vocal Tiger lobby.  The differences are even more pronounced in the rest of Australia, in particular Victoria, where the pro LTTE vote would be insignificant compared to that of the well establised mainstream Sri Lankan community.

 

Federal Electorate

Sinhalese

Tamil

Holt (VIC)

5,095

  266

Bruce (VIC)

4,359

  648

Chisholm (VIC)

2,946

  324

Aston (VIC)

2,495

  244

Hotham (VIC)

2,046

  148

Calwell (VIC)

2,004

   50

Wills (VIC)

1,010

   34

Deakin (VIC)

1,051

   94

Lalor (VIC)

  914

   48

Higgins (VIC)

  893

   17

Menzies (VIC)

  854

  100

Batman (VIC)

  838

   85

Parramatta (NSW)

2,722

1,043

Lowe (NSW)

1,810

  671

Greenway (NSW)

1,801

  408

Bennelong (NSW)

1,422

  274

Berowra (NSW)

1,327

  144

Wentworth (NSW)

  216

   10

Barton (NSW)

  179

   13

Fraser (ACT)

  992

  175

Canberra (ACT)

  878

  176

Adelaide (SA)

  381

   33

Boothby (SA)

  218

   18

Hindmarsh (SA)

  127

    8

Mayo (SA)

   93

    0

Griffith (QLD)

  412

   32

Brisbane (QLD)

  300

   20

Tangney (WA)

  914

  168

Swan (WA)

  558

   28

Canning (WA)

  291

   48

Source – Census 2006 Community Profiles, Australian Bureau of Statistics

 

Ironically, the LTTE which has a history of subverting the electoral process in Sri Lanka and several other countries is now attempting to influence the Australian Federal Election.  It has brutally eliminated scores of Sinhalese, Muslim and Tamil politicians during Election Campaigns during which candidates are particularly vulnerable.  Mr Rajiv Ghandi, the former Prime Minister of India who was blown up by a LTTE woman suicide bomber during an Election Rally in South India while former Sri Lankan President Mrs Chandrika Kumaranatunga was severely injured but survived a suicide attack during a Presidential Election Campaign.  Tamil Tiger supporters have also been accused of vote rigging in Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom.

 

It is well known that the LTTE and its front organisations have often exaggerated their numbers in an attempt to mislead or coerce Australian politicians and Media.  Therefore, in contrast to any percieved risk of losing the pro-LTTE voters, any Party or Candidate seen to be ‘pandering’ to an ethnic lobby with terrorist connections is far more likely to incur the wrath of the mainstream Australian public.

 

Like many Sri Lankan Australians, SPUR believes that the Liberal-National Coalition and the ALP should adopt a bipartisan stand towards Sri Lanka, and crackdown firmly on Tamil Tiger terrorism while extending support for a peaceful resolution of the conflict so that it satisfies the aspiration of all Sri Lankans.

 

 

Ranjith Soysa

(Spokesman, SPUR)