Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 16, 2010

Thursday 16 December 2010 – tragedy off Christmas Island.

I felt quite disturbed when the news came through yesterday of the tragedy off Christmas Island [Australia’s main offshore refuggee processing centre]  – with the wrecking of a refugee asylum seeker boat on off rocks just off the Island. It’s believed the boat was carrying up to 70 asylum seekers [mostly from Iran and Iraq] when it crashed into the limestone cliffs near Flying Fish Cove early yesterday morning. In today’s papers, we read of Christmas Island residents rushingto the scene to help, but in the main, unable to provide assistance to the drowning victims inthe ferocious water conditions and because of the steep nature of the cliff face. It’s believed that up to 30 passengers died in the disaster, the rest were rescued by the Navy.  Thankfully, for a brief change, the Government and Opposition parties have put aside political rhetoric over the refugee situation, with total priority been given to rescue, recovery and treatment of survivors in this instance. However, no doubt, it won’t be long before the political battleground is reinvigorated.

I’ve made various comments on Australia’s refugee policies, etc, and the attitude of many Australians to refugees, in my blog contributions over the years. Those views haven’t changed, and I firmly believe that the broad overall policies of both sides of politics have generated a major distrust of refugees and asylum seekers.  This kind of disaster only intensifies my concerns for our attitudes and approach to the refugee question.  Quoting from today’s ‘Age’ newspaper, we read that ‘Horrified residentswho stood on Christmas Island’s lethal limestone cliffs – their efforts to rescue children drowning below thwarted by  roaring winds that threw back life vests, and waves that pounded a slintered hull – were deeply traumatised last night. They are visibly disturbed. You can’t ignore people calling out for help – and to not be able to help……there was nothing we could do to save them’ said one woman’.   These people who constantly denigrate the asylum seekers as queue jmpers and illegal immigrants  –  one has to try and imagine the degree of desperation that leads a man to bring his family on what are generally unseaworthy boats through dangerous ocean waters, and unknown destinations and/or future in the frantic hope of a new life. We should not be condemming these people but jointly, at all political levels, seeking better options to assist them. The potential for a tragedy such as this one, is always there, and in the past 24 hours, that potential, has sadly been realised. I’ll have more to say about all this later, as it is a subject that won’t go away.

Meanwhile, over in Perth this afternoon, the 3rd Cricket ‘Ashes’ Test between Australia and England got away. If Australia don’t win this Test, they will have lost the Ashes to England, after just 3 Tests, and for the first time in Australia for 24 years.  And England will have won 3 out of the last 4 Ashes series’!  Disappointing statistics!  It gets worse  –  at lunch on Day 1, Australia, sent in to bat, had lost 4 wickets for 65 runs  –  which included another failure by Cricket captain, Ricky Ponting, Though he was not on his own, in that respect!~

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