There is some focus this week on October 19th being the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV X, which is also an appropriate time to recall the life of Amal Basry, a survivor of that tragedy.
There have been a few other five year anniversaries worth noting. Today, October 17th, was the date when the Australian government first implemented the ultimate fantasy of the Hansonites – towing the refugee boats back out to sea. This article from last June by Arnold Zable tells the story. It is worth noting that some of the 238 Afghan asylum seekers fleeing the Taliban who were crammed on that boat – SIEV 5 – that was towed back to Indonesia are still in camps on Lombok in Indonesia, five years later. That includes a family with two young children who have many direct relatives here in Australia desperate to reunite with them and totally prepared (and able) to cover their costs.
Another anniversary I failed to mention was September 26th, which was the date when 7 different pieces of legislation were guillotined through the Senate by both major parties in one hit, implementing a range of draconian amendments to the Migration Act. The Bills included some that had been categorically rejected by Labor for some time which they caved in on in the face of the post-Tampa/Sept 11 firestorm, plus one that was passed despite still being in the early stages of examination by a Senate Committee, plus others that had not been examined at all. It was not surprising that when a Committee finally examined legislation dealing with the ‘Pacific Solution’ earlier this year, it recognised the serious legal flaws and recommended rejection.
This also emphasises why it is a courageous and praiseworthy move for the ALP shadow minister, Tony Burke, to state that Temporary Protection Visas should be scrapped (although their support for that stems back to November 1999, not 2001). The objective facts indisputably back up his reasoning, but it is always a risk in politics to change your position – let alone on one where the government has a long record of dishonest fear-mongering.
PS (for the seriously anniversary keen, October 15th 1997 was the date of Cheryl Kernot joining the Labor party, and October 16th 1997 was when the Jupiter II from Lost in Space launched from Earth)