Friday, 19 March 2010

Interesting story on seaborne asylum seekers in today's NT News, which informs us that 22 men were transferred from Christmas Island to Darwin because of two boats approaching Australian territorial waters.

The 22 men were shifted to make room for the expected arrivals.

None of this appeared in newspapers in the south-east of Australia. Residents of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other capitals heard no news of these developments.

There are currently 239 asylum seekers living on Christmas Island. With the numerous occupants of the "two large refugee boats heading for Australian waters" to hit land soon, the island's available 140 places will be quickly filled.

It's an interesting scenario, and one that must fill the Rudd government with dread. They must be relieved that news of these developments has not filtered through the blogosphere into the living rooms of the majority of Australian houses. But why didn't News Ltd, which operates the website, bring this information into other websites it owns?

About 300 asylum seekers in the latter stages of the approval process will be shifted to Darwin when the larger boats arrive.

That will make a total of over 320 people who will be on mainland Australia - within its legal jurisdication - in the near future. As the article informs us,

[Christmas Island] was excised from Australian territorial law by the [previous, conservative] Howard Government.

But of course Rudd has done nothing about reincorporating the island into the legal framweork by which everyone else is judged. Not being in control of the Senate might be one reason this has not been attempted.

Being beseiged by new boats, that are arriving like clockwork from regions riven by civil strife, might be another reason the Rudd government does not want to make asylum seekers an issue. The federal election will be held this year, probably in November.

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