Boat People v2.0

It was only a few weeks ago that we were joking that “Election is looming, time for more boat people!”

Well…

A BOATLOAD of 85 asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka and Indonesia sabotaged the engine and hull of their boat just hours after it had been repaired by the Australian navy, the Government claimed yesterday.

Last night, the 83 Sri Lankans and two Indonesians who were intercepted on Tuesday were still on the navy’s HMAS Success in international waters 50 nautical miles from Christmas Island.

The Government confirmed yesterday that some of the men had indicated to Australian authorities that they wished to claim asylum.

However, it is unclear when this occurred because Mr Andrews’s office told media on Wednesday that no asylum claims had been made.

Since the Tampa incident, which shaped the 2001 federal election, the Government has tried to discourage boatpeople by excising islands from Australia’s migration zone and forcing unauthorised arrivals into offshore processing facilities such as Nauru.

Mr Andrews … defended the handling of the case, saying it was “Australian Government policy in practice” and that there had been no “untoward delay”.

*sigh*

A few years ago, The Aus would almost certainly have labelled these people “Illegal Immigrants” – and indeed, that’s probably the image Howard wants to project. It’s interesting that they’re now being labelled “Asylum Seekers”.

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