Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boat people

There is a discussion - yet again - about people who arrive in Australia by boat. The terminology is fuzzy. "Illegal immigrants? "Asylum seekers"? "Queue jumpers" "Potential terrorists"?

Firstly, let me just confess that my mother's grandfather can be accurately categorised as a real confirmed/unconfirmed "illegal immigrant"*

Oh?, ask you. Yup, we don't know where he came from, nor his birth name.  All that the 'family' (or me, by asking around the family 'folklore') can find out is that he was a teenage cabin boy on a sailing ship.  Apparently came from somewhere in Skandinavia (Sweden? Finland?). Hopped off the boat somewhere in South Australia; Whyalla? Port Pirie?. Exact year unknown.

Disappeared into the bush, became a shepherd, changed his name to Williams, married - and sprogged quite a few children.

Yes, it is possible to "track back", do some deeper research, try to find out how many cabin boys "jumped ship" in South Australia circa 1850-1870; but don't really have that sort of time nor finance (yes, it would require travel to,  poring over paper records stored in many countries around this planet (there is a hint of "Austria" somewhere in my investigations).  Only mention this as I have a great deal of admiration, and sympathy, for the clerical officers in the immigration sectors who really DO try to establish "bona fides".  One of the reasons people without "papers" - or easily verifiable 'identities' - are held in 'detention' for so long).

So. Far be it from me to express umbrage about ANYONE who tries, attempts, succeeds in arriving on these shores. "Legally" or not.

This post was prompted by the discussion on Neil's blog, and quite a lot of "real" information is there, and from the further links.

Am, at this point going to drift off.

One of the things that gives me intense annoyance is the attitude of Tony;Howard [deliberate]. "Stop the boats" is a puerile mantra; an unachievable, emotive appeal to the lowest common denominator.

If elected to some sort of 'power' - how would he achieve that? Give the RAN orders to "shoot and sink"? That, obviously, would "send a message"; but who to?
[an aside; methinks the Australian aborigines might have agreed with that notion .. heh]

Much anguish  has been made of the wreckage of one of the asylum seeker boats recently. Prompted me to remember the SIEV X* (do explore that site).

A far greater loss of life, and part of the "Howard" administration policy to "stop the boats" -  and within it you'll see that once the boats ARE in waters patrolled by the Australian Navy, they ARE determined to stay there.

Which leaves me to wonder which "policy" is the more valid. Shoot to kill? Eliminate the 'outsiders'? Or try to find some way to cheerfully accept those resourceful enough, desperate enough, brave enough, determined enough.

As a relatively "new" Aussie, and always remembering the origins of this "modern" society which has developed a unique system of "parliamentary" democracy, and "fair go" legal system - have to ask the question. Once health checks and basic vetting has been done - who would you prefer to accept as tough, resourceful, determined, Australian citizens.

Those who get here in leaky boats?

Or the far, far greater number who sneak in softly, comfortably, and safely by aeroplane?

(* and can proudly report that none, not one; of his descendants has ever had to front up to a court of criminal law).
(*suspected illegal entry vessel 10)

Other links -


Davo said...

and yer, still trying to find a valid source - but methinks its about 1500-2000 boat people vs 6,000 "visa unaccounted for".

Vest said...

A latter day Exodus. Shades of 47-48 and involved with boarding five illegal immigrants ships to the P/L.
12 of us guys from HMS Mauritius boarded the Pan York.
Jan 1-48. About 7,000 souls. Google 'The Pans'.
It was Christmas day we left Piraeus, waiting at Porus to arrest the Pans, flying the (illegal)White Star of David flag.

Davo said...

Doubt that it's the same concept in this case, Vestie. But yes, I hear.

As an "impartial" observer, who also understands the sea; and small boats - also military 'discipline' and 'chain of command'; can't really get too "emotive" about this issue.

The only thing that annoys me is some of the "newspaper" reports saying "why didn't the Navy catch them before they crashed" .. or some such ridiculous emotive crap.

"the ocean" is somewhat different from a suburban backyard.

Davo said...

Vestie - also, this is a concept of "asylum" - not "returning to perceived Homeland".

Davo said...

.. though if you push me far enough; will defend the Navy.

Davo said...

.. and teh ADF; which has always operated at the behest of "political" influence. It took some time (since circa 1914) to get to the stage where the Aussie ADF COULD actually operate under the control of our OWN commanders 'in the field'. We now sort of do, but it's very 'under the hat', politically.

Davo said...

.. aand do I need "wikileaks" to find out what the ADF is doing? nah, most of it is already online. just have to know where to look.

Davo said...

Oh, oops 25 Dec 2010 on this part of te planet. would like to see CAN - Commonwealth Australia Navy .. but guess that acronym has been sullied somewhat from elsewhere .. heh

Davo said...

..and yes. Would this post make a difference if it was discovered that i was some sort of "respected" part of the 'heirachy'.

Am not. Just a simple pensioner.

So this sort of discussion fascinates me as there are many, many, "high level" immigrants in the Australian judiciary, 'business leaders' and politics - to make this sort of discussion irrelevant.