By MALUM NALU
Former Lae MP and respected statesman Bart Philemon has slammed Australian immigration for one of the “most-blatant racism” cases against Papua New Guineans he has ever seen in his life.
Philemon, who was educated in Australia and travelled frequently there as a politician and now as a private citizen, said all black passengers on an Air Niugini flight to Brisbane on Wednesday, Nov 13 were lined up and a sniffer dog set on them in scenes he had never before witnessed in his life.
Ironically, this same part of Brisbane airport known as the “red carpet”, was where former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was forced to remove his shoes some years ago.
Philemon said that the flight from Port Moresby arrived at Brisbane at 4.30pm and passengers disembarked for the normal passport check.
“I got my baggage and was then going through the quarantine section which is the last before they let you out,” he said,
“At Brisbane airport there’s a red carpet.
“There was a woman in front of me.
“We were told to queue up there and I stood behind the woman, who was Indian but she was black.
“I stood there and all the black ones who collected their bags came and there were about 20 of us, all queuing up on the red carpet, and they put on the sniffer dog.
“There was only one white man who was in that line.
“I told the quarantine man, ‘this is really bad as there is no white person here except for a white man who’s married to a Papua New Guinean so why are you doing this?.
“He said ‘go and check the government’ and I asked ‘which government’.
“He went and grabbed me a document about bio-security.
“I raised my voice and said it brought me ‘right there and then back to colonial times when there were black people here and white people there’.
“I said ‘I don’t care if I get arrested or deported back to Papua New Guinea but this is black and white discrimination where all the whites are going and all the blacks are locked up here in a queue’.
“The question I want to ask is ‘why is Australian quarantine singling out just Papua New Guineans, black skins’.”
“I don’t know whether they do that on every flight that goes in or pick on black people, but last Wednesday, it was really extreme.
“I’ve never felt discrimination in Australia before.
“That was the first time.
“I don’t mind if they did that to me, but when I see that they blatantly picked up all the black passengers and let all the white passengers in.
“That’s what really got my blood boiling.
I said this is nothing but ‘pure racism’.
“Worse things happened to Jews, but because they were Jews, Nazis singled them out.
“That’s 70 years ago.”