Cartoon: By Nicholson
In one of its first acts on coming to government, Labor abandoned the Howard government’s ‘Pacific Solution’ to the people smuggler racket that plagued the nation prior to its enactment. The reasons given were that it was cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary. Since that time there has been a steady increase in human trafficking by sea to the point where Australians expect at least one boat per day.
People smugglers realized that they didn’t have to sail all the way to Australian territory. By going a few miles off the Indonesian coast and making a distress call, they could get the Australian Navy to come and pick them up as an unofficial taxi service. This saved an enormous amount on fuel, which raises the question as to whether they can claim carbon credits for their effort.
This has been compounded yesterday when it was claimed that rescued asylum seekers committed an act of piracy in refusing to allow the merchant ship, which rescued them to sail on to Singapore, demanding to go to Christmas Island instead:
A GROUP of 67 asylum-seekers rescued from their boat by the merchant ship Parsifal became agitated, threatened to harm themselves and demanded to be taken to Australia in a high-seas incident that has been compared with the 2001 Tampa crisis. …Today, the news is that the latest one has offloaded its cargo of 62, then sailed back to Indonesia:
The conflict erupted on Tuesday morning 30 minutes after the Parsifal's captain finished rescuing 67 male asylum-seekers from their boat, which was 50 nautical miles south of Sunda Strait, in the Indonesian search-and-rescue zone, and continued steaming towards Singapore.
One member of the group, understood to be asylum-seekers from Pakistan or Afghanistan, asked where the boat was headed to. "When told (the Parsifal) was going to Singapore, the survivors became agitated and threatened self-harm," a spokesman for the company said. The ship's master decided that the asylum-seekers, who outnumbered the crew two to one, could pose a security threat, and reported the incident to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. …
Merchant vessel Maersk Diadema was responding to a mayday call from AMSA on Monday when it steamed towards the asylum boat about 70 nautical miles southwest of Bali. AMSA, in turn, was responding to distress calls from someone onboard the asylum boat.Oh well; we might catch them tomorrow when they bring the next load out and try the same thing again. We are frequently told that these smugglers are only uneducated fishermen trying to make ends meet which makes it more embarrassing that they consistently outsmart our 'best and brightest'.
The crew of the MV Diadema, a 290m-long container ship, had finished bringing rescued passengers aboard from the small asylum boat when the Indonesian crew surprised them by getting back on to the wooden vessel, and headed for Indonesia. "Six people returned to the rescued vessel and sailed away from the scene towards Indonesia," a spokesman from Customs and Border Protection Command told The Australian last night. "It's likely, based on their actions, that they were crew.”
The incident has angered some inside Border Protection Command because the search for the boat diverted many resources, including an RAAF maritime surveillance aircraft.