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Where are the boats?

There are two stories that have allowed us to pull aside the veil of secrecy around what is happening at sea with asylum seeker boats.

The boat on the way to New Zealand in June made a distress call and was found by the Australian Navy and returned to Indonesia. It was by luck only that on that return trip no one drowned.

In July a boat from Vietnam reached the West Australian coast. The Border Protection authorities did not know about the boat.

This is very significant. The story we have been told is that, as a result of Government Policy, no one has died at sea.

But if a boat does not make a distress call, the Navy does not know of its existence.

Therefore they do not know how many asylum seekers have died at sea which is the main argument for "stopping the boats".

Please email us at with your ideas

breaking news 12 August Afghan Government wants to stem flow of forced returns from Australia



Asylum Seeker boat arrives off Western Australia Coast UNNOTICED

Suspected asylum seeker vessel heading for Dampier off WA's North West coast

Updated 20 Jul 2015, 5:39pm
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
VIDEO: An asylum seeker boat off the Dampier coast (ABC News)
A suspected asylum seeker boat has been spotted off Dampier in Western Australia's North West region.
A Federal Government source has confirmed to the ABC a boat was sighted and will be intercepted.
The ABC understands the boat could be carrying asylum seekers from Vietnam.
A spokesperson for oil and gas company Modec confirmed crew members on one of their tankers off Dampier sighted what appeared to be an asylum seeker boat at first light this morning.
Numbers could not be confirmed but the spokesperson said those onboard appeared to be in good health.
The ABC understands the North West-based police boat Delphinus has been deployed to search for the suspected asylum seeker boat.
The police vessel had been involved in the search for three missing fishermen and their vessel off the Dampier coast until this morning.
Police have been told the suspected asylum seeker boat was believed to be about 70 kilometres offshore.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it could not comment on the sighting.
A spokesperson for Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the Government did not comment on operational matters.
The Greens have criticised the level of government secrecy surrounding the boat's arrival.
"There's no justification for the minister and the department to keep the Australian people and the Australian Parliament in the dark," Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"Be upfront about what has occurred here, and just have the guts to tell the Australian people what indeed is going on at our borders."
WA Premier Colin Barnett said he believed West Australian police were "looking after the situation" until a Commonwealth naval vessel arrived.
"This boat while I think it's approaching our coast is still well offshore and it's under surveillance," he said.
"So the situation is in order.
"I think the Abbott Government is doing an enormous amount and has stopped the arrival of boats."
It is almost two years to the day since an asylum seeker vessel arrived at a floating oil platform 200 kilometres off Dampier with 17 people from Vietnam on board.


Newsletter for 29 July 2015 - Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi Everyone

This newsletter is stored here for archival purposes. You can read it by clicking on "read more" below

Letter to Nambucca Guardian News support for Mary's letter

Dear Editor 
Mary Forbes is right to challenge the policies of the Coalition Government in relation to human rights issues ( letter to Guardian News July 15th) . 
The Border Force Act 2015 which was passed earlier this month is an example of the government’s lack of concern for such issues. It carries penalties of up to two years in prison for Australian doctors,  teachers, health workers and any other staff  who disclose information related to their work in offshore detention centres on Nauru or Manus Island. This effectively makes it impossible for them to raise any concerns about child abuse, sanitation, education or any other aspect of health or welfare.
It is difficult to see how this is justified when it would be seen as a serious a dereliction of duty not to report  similar issues here on the Australian Mainland. 
The consequences of the Border Force Act  for children and families held in detention will be devastating. Furthermore our international reputation is also at stake here.  Doctors, nurses, teachers  and others in the fields of welfare provision made their opposition to this act clear by organising country wide demonstrations last week including a well attended demonstration in Coffs Harbour . 
We have to ask ourselves what is it that the present government want to hide ?  Do they feel that if we were told the truth it could affect their standing in the polls?   Many of us feel that enough is enough. We don’t want to live in a secret society we look to our government for openness , honesty and integrity . Is this too much to ask ? 

Pressure on Labor from outside the group

Ms Gai Brodtmann MP
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Gai

To say that I am disappointed at the Party’s decision to endorse a ‘turnback’ asylum seeker policy is an understatement.

In fact irate best describes it, as I am sure are many other members of the ACT ALP. 

Without doubt you will become aware of our wrath over the next few months. Quite a few will leave the Party and join the Greens – others will just leave.  I am considering leaving and joining the Greens because as you know I feel strongly about the need for the Federal Government to develop sound, effective and humane policies to address the issue of asylum seekers.

The ALP policy on Chapter 9 does not reflect this despite the spin being put on the amendments.

Many of us in the ACT have worked hard on researching and developing a policy which many others in this ‘space’ support including well known advocates like Julian Burnside, Frank Brennan and of course Jon Stanhope.

Whether or not I stay and fight for a change in this Shorten promoted policy or leave and fight against the Party depends upon whether or not you, as my local member, support or oppose the ‘turnback’ approach and, if you do, how you justify it.

Interested in your response.

Yours sincerely

Terry Walls

25 July 2015 


response from Melissa Parke MP to Mike's letter to Labor National Conference

Dear Mike,
Thanks for your email – and let me say at the outset that I don’t support ‘boat turn-backs’.  Turning back boats at sea is against international law; it is dangerous; it runs against the principle of non-refoulement (which means that people seeking refuge cannot be sent back to circumstances of persecution); and it is not in any case an effective way of avoiding deaths at sea, as some claim.
While I’m glad there was an open and robust debate at National Conference on this issue, I’m very sorry that Labor didn’t resolve to reject ‘boat turn backs’ or to close offshore centres when there is clear evidence of failures to protect refugees in those centres.  I am glad, however, that Labor resolved to double the humanitarian migrant intake, and to involve and resource the UNHCR to a much greater degree.  These are important, positive changes, though more can be and needs to be done.
I have always argued for an approach to asylum seekers that is consistent with international law and moral principle, both within Labor and in parliament and the public domain (see, for example, herehere, and here).
I know that many people, like you, feel deeply disappointed and even angry that Labor hasn’t fought the government fiercely on its scaremongering and its senseless ‘tough-on-border’ posturing.  I’m often angry myself – and along with a number of my colleagues and groups like Labor4Refugees, I’m fighting to shift Labor on these issues.
Again, thanks for taking the time to write with your thoughtful input and perspective on this issue.
Kind regards,
Hon Melissa Parke MP
Federal Labor Member for Fremantle
Canberra: Suite R1.31, Parliament House, Canberra | TEL: 02 6277 4504
Electorate office: 62 Wray Avenue, Fremantle, WA 6160 | TEL: 08 9335 8555  

Dear Labor Members of Parliament,
This weekend you have the opportunity to break away from the cruel and inhumane asylum seeker policy so ruthlessly pursued by the Abbott government. There are better ways to manage the complex problems of asylum seeker policy. Simply aping the Coalition in a race to the bottom for purely electoral reasons is not the way to go. If you endorse Bill Shorten’s proposal to support turnbacks, then you will lose the support of many sections of the community, who are looking to the ALP to rise above the disgraceful situation that we currently find ourselves in. It’s time to show some spine, some principle and some compassion, and to respect the international conventions and treaties which we, as a nation, have signed up to.


Picket at Luke Hartsuyker's Office

Weekly picket out side Luke Hartsuyker's office

check out picket in the "index" tab at the head of the blog


Newsletter 22 July 2015 - Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi Everyone

This newsletter is stored here for archival purposes. You can read it by clicking on "read more" below

Petition to Bill Shorten on asylum seeker policy

To Bill Shorten MP,  leader of the Opposition
  We, the undersigned, call on the Australian Labor Party to support the millions of Australians who are deeply dismayed by the Coalition government’s cruel, immoral and unlawful treatment of asylum seekers. Specifically, we urge you:
·       to seek an end date to the indefinite detention of children on the mainland, on Manus and on Nauru.
·       to develop policies for the transparent and  independent  oversight of these centres.
·       to seek amendments to the Border Force Act, in order to enable doctors, nurses and other support workers to report openly on their experiences in these centres without the fear of prosecution.
·       to demand access to the centres by NGOs, such as Amnesty International, and by journalists.




Published by Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees