Tag Archives: tragedy

A story of tragic experiences…

11 Sep


The image of that boat crashing against the rocks will never leave me. Neither will the memory of that phone call from the hospital asking whether we had any body bags because they had run out.

In the few weeks leading up to the crash, I had been heading into the office very early in the morning, sometimes before 4.30am. Christmas Island was four hours behind Canberra time (because of daylight savings), so I would go and get as much done while Canberra were at their desks. That way, I could be ready and available to help my staff when they arrived in the office at North West Point.

For the previous few mornings, the summer swells had been really big. There had even been community bulletins put out for the Kampong area (opposite the jetty at Flying Fish Cove) warning against freak waves that could swamp the ground-floor apartments.  All the offload operations and first day processing had been put on hold until the weather died down. We had a couple of Customs and Border Protection boats (including Navy boats) out on the water with asylum seekers on board, waiting to disembark once it was safe. (They had all been transferred off their own vessels because of the dangerous conditions.)  Each morning, I’d head down to the jetty to have a look at the conditions, trying to work out if the offload was likely.

On the morning of the 15 December, I did just that – drove past the jetty (at about 5.45am, a bit later than usual) and then went on to the office.  The swells was enormous and I knew, as soon as I saw the cove, that we wouldn’t be doing an offload operation that day. It was simply too dangerous.

Almost as soon as I parked my car and walked into the detention centre front gate, my phone rang to say that an unexpected boat had arrived – unintercepted by the Navy (as sometimes happened) – and was dangerously close to the shoreline down in Settlement (one of the main residential areas on the island). The boat crashed against the rocks shortly after 7am and we had a disaster on our hands… Continue reading

The last few weeks have been shocking – for all sorts of reasons

8 Apr

imagesThe last few weeks in Australian politics has been shocking. After threats of a challenge to the leadership of the Labor Party (and, therefore, the Prime Ministership), the political discussions seems to have settled down, once again, into a shallow cat and mouse game between people who should know better, but clearly don’t.  To top all the excitement off, the government announced some non-changes to superannuation and the PM went on a trip to China. (The trip was supposed to be to attend a conference convened there by a former Labor Prime Minister, but has turned into a great opportunity for the PM to make it look like she cares about the North Korea situation).

Unfortunately, when the cats and mice are doing their thing, the rest of us tend to not hear about other important things that happen… Continue reading

It happens all too often…

25 Mar

ImageA couple of weeks ago, we heard reports of Thai officials shooting some ‘boat people’ (asylum seekers). This week, we hear another tragic story of loss of life – this time at the hands of the sea.

Reports are emerging of an unfolding marine incident about 14 nautical miles north of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) where a boat carrying around 95 Asylum Seekers capsized at about 8am (local) this morning. Australian Customs and Border Protection are involved in a large-scale search and rescue after reports emerged of (at least) two deaths. (The surviving passangers are currently involved in ‘first day processing’ by Australian government officials on Christmas Island.)

These boats are dangerous. People get on them with very little choice – by the time they see the boats, they can’t really turn back.

Every loss of life is tragic. The loss of someone as vulnerable yet hardy as the kind of asylum seekers who are coming to Australia is, somehow, even more tragic.



Asylum Seekers shot in Thailand

16 Mar

Link – Asylum Seekers shot in Thailand

According to the United Nations, there is concern that the Thai Navy shot dead at least two Rohingya asylum-seekers who fled northern Myanmar by boat. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the shooting allegedly took place on 22 February while the Navy was transferring around 130 people from the boat they had arrived in into smaller boats.


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