• OTHER \ Jul 24, 2008
    reads 3912
    Australian Department told 'bring more Christians'
Australian Department told 'bring more Christians' "We do not want discrimination or bias occurring ... And that's why I believe it is appropriate that our sensitive overseas posts, such as those in the Middle East, are staffed by Australians," Senator Ellison said.

A Department of Immigration spokesman said there were no substantiated cases of anti-Christian discrimination in Australian embassies and no plans to replace "Islamic locally engaged staff" with Australian officials.

An investigation by The Weekend Australian has discovered Mr Andrews was petitioned by the
Australian Christian Lobby to address alleged religious discrimination against Iraqis. Before losing office in the November 2007 election, he ordered the number of Christian Iraqi refugees to be increased by 1400 for 2007-08, almost doubling the previous year's Iraqi total of 1639.

"Put it this way, it was made very clear to the immigration department that more Christian refugees were wanted," a Howard government source said.

In his letter to Mr Howard in August last year, Mr Andrews, a devout Catholic, proposed significant changes to the refugee selection process.

In the letter, seen by The Weekend Australian, Mr Andrews accused the case workers in Australian embassies of fraud and bribery when processing migration applications.

Such posts are predominantly staffed by local workers.

He said this raised "considerable security risks".

Mr Andrews named 10 countries - Pakistan, India, United Arab Emirates, China, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Kenya, Russia and Egypt - in which the posts should be staffed exclusively with Australian departmental officers.

The non-Muslim countries named by Mr Andrews are understood to be less riddled by religious discrimination and more so by corruption, a source told The Weekend Australian.