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The politics of the Tampa Incident and our attitude towards refugees

After rescuing the Palapa’s crew and passengers the TAMPA headed to Christmas Island. How did the Australian Government respond? Source: Source: AAP/Wallenius Wilhelmsen

In August 2001, the Indonesian boat KM Palapa 1 left Indonesia carrying over 400 asylum seekers who hoped to reach Australia. On August 26, the Norwegian cargo ship, the MV Tampa, responded to a call from the Australian Coast Guard to save the Palapa’s passengers and crew. What happened still reverberates in contemporary Australia.

Shaffira Gayatri is an activist for women’s and refugees’ rights.  She currently works at the Migrant Workers Centre VictoriaShe explains to Sri Dean the politics of the Tampa Incident both now and then and the fate of refugees living in limbo in Indonesia.

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John Howard at a DFAT policy Forum in 2014.
John Howard was Prime Minister at the time of the Tampa Incident. His declaration that “We will decide who comes to Australia” align with Australian voters.
Image by DFAT photo library/Creative Commons.

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