Published, of course, by the ABC, Australia's public broadcaster
Asylum seeking is a risky business, as shown by the tragedy that unfolded in Australian waters last week. The risks of not seeking asylum can be even more severe, and people experiencing persecution may have little choice but to avail themselves of extreme measures in attempts to seek safe haven. [Really?? When they have passed through several other countries on their way to Australia, they have obviously had PLENTY of choice. Afghans could for instance have stopped in Pakistan. Many do]
The blame game for the tragedy near Ashmore Reef has begun, with shadow immigration minister Sharman Stone holding the Government culpable for putting lives at risk through what she describes as a watering down of the Howard government's immigration policies and the cutting of surveillance.
Political memories are short-lived and the opposition and its supporters ought to tally the loss of lives during boat journeys to Australia under the harsh policies of John Howard. The starkest reminder of the risks at sea is in the nation's capital of Canberra - a memorial erected by refugee advocates to remember the 353 women, children and men who lost their lives on the ill-fated SIEV X, which sank on its way to Australia in 2001. The government's Temporary Protection Visa, aimed at deterring asylum seekers, barred family reunion and women and children were the majority of those who perished in a desperate bid to reach their husbands and fathers through the only means available to them.
During the Howard era there were other less-known fatal voyages where people died in tragic circumstances while attempting to seek refuge in Australia. In December 2000, then immigration minister Philip Ruddock defended his decision not to launch a search and rescue mission for 160 asylum seekers feared drowned on their way to Australia, adding that his government believed another 350 people had been lost earlier that year. In 2001 deaths included a young baby on the boat known as SIEV 5 and two women, one pregnant, on the SIEV X. [It is perfectly true that refugee boats sometimes sink and kill people but the best cure for that is to stop them setting out in the first place and that is precisely what the Howard government did]
In 2005, the Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work convened the People's Inquiry into Detention [Much like the People's Democratic Republic of North Korea, no doubt. The Marxist language tells you all you need to know. These guys aren't even clever] in order to challenge and expose asylum seeker policies and practices. Witnesses to the inquiry told of the perilous journeys to Australia and the harsh treatment they received at the hands of the Australian government. We surely do not wish to return to an era where we again experience the treatment meted out to desperate people as illustrated in the following account. ["Desperate", my foot. They had plenty of choices before coming here. Australia is a long way from where they originated. Even the country where they got into the boats -- Indonesia -- is a Muslim one with Muslim obligations of hospitality. And how did they get to Indonesia? On regular airline flights! "Greedy" would be a better word for them. It is money they are after, not refuge]
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here