Tag: boat people

Boat People – it’s not a one dimensional issue

The recent tragedy on Christmas Island is beyond words. My sympathies are with the families who are mourning those who did not survive. This post is written because of what has been said since they arrived and their boat disintegrated with some dying and others surviving heavily traumatised, and in a very small way I hope that some people read it and realise that kicking the boat people football is a very bad game.

Unsurprisingly, the recent tragedy has brought out the usual political pundits, kicking the ball all over the place, blaming the Government for the tragedy (both the executive and the legislative arms) and suggesting that as the Labour Government overturned the previous Liberal Government’s Pacific Solution, that they’re responsible for boats arriving to Australia, and that Customs, AFP, Immigration and/or Defence should have known that the boat was nearby (despite the weather and sea playing interference with radar, and the sheer size of territory they’re responsible for monitoring – press release via another website here).

Let’s start with the latter point because it’s fairly simple to address – and I’ve pretty much done so with the fact that a small wooden boat, in high (near monsoonal) seas is going to be hard to spot.  Let’s not also Public Service bash, which is nice and easy with a big conglomerate of faceless individuals, but as a former Immigration staffer, I can tell you that most Public Servants I worked with were left leaning, compassionate and dedicated human beings.  The type of people you’d actually want making the tough decisions that get made.

Continue reading

Related Posts:

Boat People

Shaun Tan's art from John Marsden's The Rabbits

(Stylised art work with rabbits dressed in English military style leaving a tall masted ship and walking onto a beach)

The first boat people arrived in January 1788.  They ignored local culture, forced their religion, language and mores down the true blue Aussie’s throats.  They forced the Aussies to dress like them and eat their food.  They killed the Aussies, raped their women, committed genocide on entire tribes, infected them with a host of diseases they’d never had contact with, stole their land, and continued arriving in increasing numbers until 1868 when transportation ended.

The next big arrival of boat people to Australia happened in the late 1940s after World War 2.  These arrivals were pre-arranged and so were housed in Migrant Reception Centres which were to “provide for general medical examination and x-ray of migrants, issue of necessary clothing, payment of social service benefits, interview to determine employment potential, instruction in English and the Australian way of life generally” (Wikipedia).  These boat people did not force their religion, language and mores onto Australia.  They were expected to assimilate and become good “New Australians”.

The next wave of boat people happened in the late 1970s when just over 2000 Vietnamese arrived by boat over the space of 5 years.  “The vast majority of the 90,000 Vietnamese refugees who came here by the mid-1980s were processed offshore in camps in South-East Asia.” (The Age).  Again these boat people did not force their religion, language and mores onto Australia.

Since 1999 (11 years), a bit over 18,000 boat people have entered Australia (Australian Parliamentary Library).  Australia typically accepts between 13,000 and 14,000 refugees a year (DIAC), so this number does not even put a dent in the number of refugees Australia accepted during these period.  These boat people also did not force their religion, language and mores onto Australia.

So the worst boat arrivals, in the way that they have treated Australian people, committed crimes against humanity, acted as terrorists, stole land, crushed culture and committed genocide would be the English back in 1788.  Nothing else comes close.

Related Posts: