Labor Has Already Turned Back 15 Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers & So Much For ‘Change’

Labor and Liberal logos next to the "it's the same picture" meme.

Just one day into power, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese‘s government has turned back a Sri Lankan asylum seeker vessel. If you thought this new government’s refugee treatment would be less cruel than Scott Morrison‘s, think again.

Labor solidified its inhumane refugee stance by confirming that yes, it didn’t hesitate to deny the right to seek asylum to a boat of Sri Lankan people despite this being a violation of human rights. Wow, a government that is proud of its lack of empathy and compassion! How different from its predecessors.

According to, there were around 15 people on the boat that was stopped on election day by Australian Border Force just before it made it to the coast. You might remember the despicable text the Liberal party sent to the public about it.

It turns out acting Prime Minister Richard Marles (who is Albanese’s deputy) ordered authorities to proceed with the asylum seeker “take-back procedure”, which decided the people on board were not owed any protection. Even though no one gets on a boat across treacherous seas to a hostile nation at risk of indefinite imprisonment or death at sea for *fun*.

“They have been returned to Sri Lanka, and that has happened in a very ordinary and routine way,” Marles proudly told Sky News.

“And people smugglers out there should know that very clearly; there will be no change under this government, and Australia retains its strong border stance.”

In a statement from the Operation Sovereign Borders task force, it was confirmed that all the asylum seekers were “safely returned” to Australia.

First of all, there’s nothing “safe” about sending people right back to the persecution they escaped. To even say so is shameful. Secondly, why the fuck is our new Labor government proud that it will retain the Liberal Party’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers? Opposition my ass.

The Greens, which are set to hold more seats than ever before after all the votes are counted, called Labor’s decision “unnecessary, ineffective, inhumane and contrary to international law”. Go off.

“Australians voted for change and deserve so much better than a shameful continuation of Scott Morrison‘s brutal policy,” Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said, per The Australian.

Truthfully, we shouldn’t be surprised about this because Labor has never pretended its refugee policies are any different to the Liberals. “Stopping the boats” has bipartisan support.

I suppose Anthony Albanese’s promise to free the Murugappan family and allow them to return to Biloela left some us hopeful that change is coming. Labor may have introduced offshore detention, but if they could understand why the Murugappans need Australia’s protection after fleeing persecution as Tamils in Sri Lanka, why wouldn’t they empathise with other Sri Lankan refugees?

It seems that’s because freeing the Murugappans was never about refugee rights, it was about winning public support to secure victory in an election. They’re sympathetic and in the public eye, unlike the faceless Sri Lankans that our government failed.

When the Murugappan family is freed, let’s not forget other refugees and asylum seekers who haven’t been fortunate enough to find themselves as at the forefront of Australian consciousness. All asylum seekers and refugees deserve to be safe. And it’s rich as hell for our government, a significant portion of which are the descendants of colonisers on stolen, unceded land, to decide who does and doesn’t deserve to be here.