More than a year after the last federal election, and long after the Abbott government ended the deadly people-smuggling trade into Australia, the ABC discoversÂ one or two problemsÂ with the previous government’s asylum seeker policies:
‘Fiona’ is a serving Navy officer, so the ABC must obscure her identity. She worked at the Northern Command in Darwin, which directed the Navy ships intercepting asylum seeker boats …
Fiona said she was also aware of the level ofÂ indirect political pressureÂ applied to border protection operations.
She said the captains of naval ships were told not to board asylum seeker vessels until they were in Australian waters, and the crews and passengers were then subject to Australian migration law.
She claims that on at least one occasion, an asylum seeker vessel sank as a result.
“In the incident that I’ve described where the boat overturned and people died,Â that pressure came from Canberra,” she said.
Interesting. The ABC also found Navy officer “Michael”:
Another serving Navy officer, ‘Michael’, also said he witnessed occasions in which unseaworthy asylum seeker vessels were not boardedÂ because of decisions made in Canberra.
He said this pressure took the form of “suggestions” relayed to the captains of boats, rather than direct orders.
“Our vessel was delayed 15 hours for a boarding on one occasion and we got reports in from surveillance aircraft that that vessel had sunk 13 hours ago,” he said.
“All we found was probably a line about 70 miles long of bodies. We fished them out for as long as we could, ‘til we were full. And that wasn’t uncommon.”
MentionedÂ only onceÂ in this piece:
All of the personnel the ABC spoke to served on Operation ResoluteÂ during the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments.
Again, interesting. The ABC’sÂ 7.30Â at leastÂ mentioned Labor more than once, but the online copy contains this puzzling paragraph:
Men and women who served on Operation Resolute – the Navy’s contribution toÂ Operation Sovereign BordersÂ – have spoken publicly for the first time about what they have witnessed while boarding and intercepting asylum seeker vessels off Australia’s northern coast.
Operation Sovereign Borders was introduced by the Abbott government in 2013. ItÂ stoppedÂ the deaths and trauma referred to in this report. The ABC is more than a year late and a fact short.
UPDATE.Â FurtherÂ from the ABC:
For the first time, we hear from some of the one in three Australian Defence Force membersÂ involved in Operation Sovereign BordersÂ who have reported being deeply traumatised by what they’ve seen …
Every individual interviewed in that piece describes events that took place under the Labor andÂ priorÂ to Operation Sovereign Borders.
UPDATE II. The ABCÂ slyly removesÂ that Operation Sovereign Borders reference:
For the first time, we hear from some of the one in three Australian Defence Force members involvedÂ in border protection operationsÂ who have reported being deeply traumatised by what they’ve seen …
(Via J.F. Beck)