Pushing them away

An Australian offshore island    © PJ Croft 2012
Yesterday I sent an email to a Liberal member of our Federal Parliament who seemed to be showing some empathy with the plight of boat people, refugees who try to reach Australia from Indonesian ports and often die in the process.
I’m angry about people who call these refugees “illegals”. It is NOT illegal to seek refugee status and constant repetition of the word does not make it so. One of my long term “friends” says it repeatedly and he’d better be aware that he risks getting the hot coffee he cadges off me thrown in his face next time.
The federal opposition under the Dear Leader Tony Abbott has stated that they will FORCE boat people back to Indonesian ports, using our Navy personnel to do it.
I sent the following to this Liberal Party MHR:

I was encouraged by your show of emotion about asylum seekers (and xxx my [local] member; Oh, wondrous heaven, will miracles never cease?)

But you are blindly showing allegiance to your leader who is preaching words to the Armed Forces akin to sedition! [No, wrong word, it’s not sedition. Incitement to mutiny?] He is saying he (you) will command the Navy to force the refugee boats back inside Indonesian territorial waters, inside the 12 mile limit. Command.

Oh yes?

Indonesia has already made plain that they can not and will not take action to stop the boats leaving, nor will they take them back to Indonesian ports. (I don’t like it but I can understand it.)

Therefore the Australian Navy has the task of physically pushing or towing the boats back into Indonesian waters or to Indonesian ports (or Malaysian ports, for that matter).

Our Navy commanders have an obligation under the Law of the Sea to render assistance to boats in distress. They have already said they may have to disobey orders if these requirements conflict.

If they continue to push boats back to Indonesia, and Indonesia objects and tries to force the boats back to sea, what happens then? Naval confrontations between our nations on the sea border?

Your leader says “The Navy must obey me.” Admiral Chris Barry says doing this may involve the Navy in conflict and endanger life, something the Navy does not want to do.

How do you propose to reconcile this? Order the captains to obey their orders no matter what? I predict they won’t.

How does this fit with your expressions of compassion? To me, it cannot.

Peter Croft 

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