THE Coalition has apologised to the families of the victims of the Malu Sara sinking, after using a photograph of the vessel in an ad.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison yesterday apologised to John Saub, the father of Valerie Saub, one of five people who died in the accident involving the unseaworthy Immigration Department vessel in the Torres Strait in 2005.
“We’re very sorry for any offence we’ve caused to John and all the other families,” Mr Morrison said after meeting Mr Saub and his family in Cairns yesterday.
“Clearly that was not our intent. It was a very innocent use of this image which was made available to the Coalition by a news agency.”
The television advertisement featuring the photograph was broadcast on Sunday night, after the Coalition’s election launch in Brisbane, and featured a voiceover by Mr Morrison saying “providing real border security”.
The sinking of the Immigration Department launch was slammed by Queensland Coroner Michael Barnes last year as an avoidable disaster that occurred as a result of government officials’ failure to do their jobs properly.
Mr Saub, who is engaged in a legal battle to secure compensation for himself and his four orphaned grandchildren, said he accepted Mr Morrison’s apology and appreciated his visit.
Mr Morrison and local LNP candidate Warren Entsch used the visit to attack local Labor member for Leichhardt Jim Turnour, accusing him of using the Coalition’s mistake for political point-scoring.
Mr Turnour said he had commented on the advertisement in response to queries from local media. “It was (the Coalition) that put the Malu Sara image in a political advertisement,” he said.