The Australian parliamentary delegation led by the Australian Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop that visited the Island during the end of January has commended the work done in the North within such a short period of time since the end of war.
The parliamentary delegation was accompanied by the shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and border protection spokesman Michael Keenan. The group visited the North and East and also met with Sri Lankan government officials and opposition parliamentarians to hold discussions on a range of issues including illegal people smuggling.
Speaking to the press upon their return to Australia Julie Bishop said that she was struck by the amount of reconstruction work that is going on in the former theatre of conflict. She said that billions of rupees are being spent on major infrastructure development projects. She further said that the delegation made the visit in order see the conditions on the ground and also meet the stake holders in the reconciliation process. She expressed confidence that their policy directions on Sri Lanka were going in the right direction.
She elaborated on a number of issues pertaining to the reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation and reduction of security forces among other issues and said they are heartened by the steps that had been taken through the reconciliation process.
She stressed that Australia should attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, (CHOGM) and also should encourage other countries to attend. The CHOGM is scheduled to be held later in the year in Sri Lanka.
She reiterated that Sri Lanka is making inroads into the challenges facing the country and should be encouraged to continue to do so.
The Colombo beautification and restoration of heritage buildings also came under praise by the Deputy Opposition Leader. She said that she witnessed a dramatic change in the city.
On the subject of illegal people smuggling the delegation was of the view the people who make the journey do so for economic and life style purposes and they are convinced that there is no threat of persecution or risk to life if these people remain in the Island rather than making the dangerous journey. It was also said that the opposition policy was to return all illegal refugees back.
Courtesy: Ministry of Defence and Urban Development