Christmas Island Boat Disaster

After almost every comment the government makes about its refugee policies they say ‘and we’ve saved lives, stopped the drownings’.

Its boat turn back policies prove without a doubt that this rhetoric is false.

Last week in the same press release Minister Dutton says Operation Sovereign Borders had  ‘no doubt saved innumerable lives’ and had turned back 25 boats carrying 698 people.

He claims these people returned safely to the country they departed from, but how do they know this? And what constitutes safety?

There was one boat recently turned back to Sri Lanka, if refugees are fleeing Sri Lanka (most likely Tamils) returning them is not safe.

The same applies to Indonesia, refugees in Indonesia are not safe, Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees. Refugees there do not have an income and  are in danger from corrupt police and hostile locals (I know from first hand accounts).

The governments policy of boat turnbacks is much like its policy of on and offshore detention of refugees. To deter one group of people you have to destroy the lives of another group of people.

This is not a long term solution to the global issue of displaced people.

The total number of refugees who have arrived in Australia by boat is 61 963 (according to my dodgy maths you can check yourself Parliamentary Library Boat Arrivals Since 1976).

As of January 2015 the total number of refugees accepted as part of Australia’s immigration portfolio was 800 000 since 1945.

The overwhelming majority of boat arrivals are determined to be refugees so the department’s use of language to describe the apparent threat of refugees is hyperbole.

“Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) had stemmed the flow of illegal boats to Australia and no doubt saved innumerable lives.”


Additionally 57 people smuggling ventures have been disrupted before departure resulting in a further 1900 people not attempting a risky voyage.

How do we really know if there numbers are accurate? We know Dutton and co can not be trusted.

“However we cannot take that success for granted, we must remain vigilant and resolute, the people smugglers will seek to take any opportunity to re-start their evil and dangerous trade.”

It is more evil and dangerous to turn back boats of vulnerable people to uncertain destinations. It is also ‘evil and dangerous’ to send people to island gulags or return them to countries where they face persecution or death.

“Our intelligence tells us there are 14,000 people positioned in Indonesia alone who are prepared to hop on boats and attempt to travel illegally to Australia.”

You mean people who need our help Mr Dutton?

Mr Dutton said the ABF and ADF have recently significantly reinforced deterrence measures with the ADF vesselOceanProtectorjoining the ABF’s OceanShieldand an increased presence of other response vessels across the approaches to Australia while aerial surveillance had also been intensified.

If measures to prevent refugees boarding boats to Australia (like accepting refugees through the UNHCR  from Indonesia so they could come by place) are not put in place then these measures could be used to save lives at at sea (which the govt care about so much)

He said the other benefit of stopping the boats was a halt to new illegal arrivals being placed in detention and a reduction in numbers of those already in detention.

New arrivals don’t have to languish in detention and those living in the community don’t have to wait so long for the determination of their case.

If Dutton and his Government really cared about people in detention why are refugees and kept in such appalling conditions in offshore detention centers?

If they really care why are refugees in offshore detention tortured?

Why are babies living in moldy tents?


Perspective on Boat Arrivals


A global perspective


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