There’s finally some modicum of relief in sight for 157 Asylum Seekers who have been held aboard an Australian customs vessel at sea for more than six weeks. It is understood that all of them are now in the process of being transferred from the open water to the Australian mainland. This marks the first (known/non-Government ordered media suppressed) boat to arrive on Australian shores in six months.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that an Airbus A320 will be dispatched to collect the asylum seekers aboard the customs boat and bring them to Australia. Liberal spin teams will likely sell this as technically not an arrival of a physical boat, thus keeping the Liberal Government’s bullshit “Stop The Boats” malarky intact.
This is only good news for the asylum seekers in the sense that they’re no longer being held in limbo at sea. They are being transferred to the Curtin Detention Centre in norther Western Australia. This is considered to be one of the harshest detention centres in the country due to its extreme remote location. Caroline Fleay – a senior lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University stated that very few people outside the department of immigration can access the centre due to where it is located, and that that location means that detainees would find it very hard to gain access to medical or legal help once they are in the centre. The centre itself has been flagged for closure in the coming year.
The decision to bring the asylum seekers to the mainland also casts a shadow over how a High Court challenge against the Government will proceed. The case was to be a comprehensive test on whether the Government has the power to intercept and return boats at sea.
This decision follows weeks of uncertainty and Governmental denial as to the physical whereabouts of the asylum seekers, as well as the turning back of a similar boat load of asylum seekers, who were (arguably unlawfully) handed back to Sri Lankan Navy after a three question interrogation process conducted via videolink.
So whilst this batch of asylum seekers should find relief in finally leaving one hellish limbo, sadly due to the unfathomably cruel processes implemented by previous Governments, and only amplified by this current one, their destination is merely another, far worse, form of hellish limbo.
What kind of Government could honestly be happy with this kind of result?
Photo: Stefan Postles via Getty Images.