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Christmas Island disaster and who is to blame for all those killed

December 17, 2010

Christmas Island disaster and who is to blame for all those killed



At this stage no one has explained how a boat load of asylum-seekers made it all the way through the Australian long range radar and naval surveillance to eventually crash against the rocks on Christmas Island. There have been indications that poor weather in the Cyclone season made it extremely hard to spot a small timber craft between the huge swells. Being made of timber it would have been difficult to identify via radar. It is very likely that this vessel with up to 100 lives on board slipped through the net and caught everyone by surprise as it headed into danger.

The tragedy unfolded like a bad dread as the boat was dwarfed by huge waves that would eventually smash angst rocks. Women and children could be heard crying out for help before they were swept out to sea and lost. Despite the best efforts of rescuers and naval personal, 30 bodies, including babies, have been pulled from the ocean. There is every expectation that the figure will grow.

Out of this we are left three burning questions: How did this tragedy happen; why did it happen and how can a similar tragedy be prevented in the future?


Already the voices of reason are being drowned out by the voices of confusion.

David Marr immediately cast his judgement that it was the navy who failed when he penned his piece in the National Times Newspaper titled: “How did this boat get so close to the coast?”

“The key mystery of this tragedy is how that boat was allowed near those cliffs in that filthy weather.”

In a video interview for the National times he takes his argument further.

The first question that must be asked is why the navy – if it was within the navy’s power – why the navy allowed that boat anywhere near the island. It should not have been there.”

In stark contrast the crew of the vessel is given a waver on responsibility as he adds: “it is not a question to put to the crew.”

Here David Marr’s reason starts to reflect his own blind faith that ‘all asylum seekers are genuine’.

It is mark of the determination of these people, to escape the conditions in their own countries and find refuge, that they are willing to take those risks … It is a measure of the dangers of their homeland that these risks have been taken.” …And…

These fresh deaths raise the possibility that Canberra is once again pressuring its boats to delay rescue.”


Andrew Bolt from the rival publication HeraldSun was scathing of Julia Gillard and the Labor Party Government for relaxing the boarder protection laws. For moths he has been publishing the increased numbers of asylum boats since the Pacific solution was abolish. The number of boats had increased from 3 in the last years of the Howard Government to around 200 since the laws were changed. He calls this the ‘Honey Pot Effect’ that makes Australia an attractive destination for people smugglers. He also claimed that the Gillard Government has the blood of these people on its hands and that Julia Gillard must resign.


Not to left out of the debate Bob Ellis for the ABC’s website ‘The Drum’ unleashes his blame in this article “Bad policy and the cruel sea“.

Will the orphaned children be sent back to Iraq? Who will look after them? Will the PM fly to the scene of the disaster? Why not? … …Or will they go, as always, to the back of the queue, far behind the Chinese millionaires we prefer?

Bob rants on with pure ignorance:

“If they prefer Australia to living beside their parents’ killers in the ethnically-cleansed valleys of Sri Lanka, they will tend to want to come here.” (He really comes across like someone who knows absolutely nothing about Sri Lanka.) He also fails to establish why any asylum seekers are specifically heading for Australian rather than the nations that are much closer. Are they seeking genuine refuge or are they shopping for the best conditions of refuge? Meaning that if they have time to be picky then how desperate is their need?

However his solution for the drowned asylum seekers is to go and “ask John Faulkner to handle it”. I suppose if John is busy we could ask his mum.


The Gillard government has dealt with this matter but stating that it was not the appropriate time to question the policy. Instead Julia Gillard proposed an all part discussion in the future. The opposition has rejected the offer.


Yet for sheer audacity Greens Party leader Bob Brown appears to have discovered the Zen of irrationality when he penned this letter to the HerandSun.

Dear Editor,

Andrew Bolt has blood on his hands. He stridently insisted on the invasion and killings in Iraq which led to millions fleeing. Some of those millions ended up in the ocean off Christmas Island on Wednesday.

Andrew Bolt’s call, while bodies were still in the ocean, for Julia Gillard’s resignation (but the Labor Party opposed the war in Iraq) lacked human decency. He should resign.

Senator Bob Brown


Andrew Bolt replied to Bob’s letter here, on his blog with post titled “Look at your own hands, Bob“.

Calling for Andrew Bolt to resign over an editorial does come across as extreme. Even in the loyal bunker of the Greens own website there has been a flood of comments condemning Bob Brown’s letter.


All this attack and counter attack is coming from the friction of conflicting policies and ideologies. Tragically 30 people have been killed in a situation that warrants an urgent discussion about the future of our boarder protection policies. We also need to know what needs to change before such a tragedy happens again.


Are Australia’s current policies luring people to their deaths?

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