This week, the story of asylum seekers making their way to Australia on a leaky boat has snowballed into a whirlwind of speculation, shrouded by secrecy and denial from the Government.
Reports of 153 Tamils, including 37 children nearing our shores in desperate need of food, water and dry land defy the recent proclamations from the Abbott Government that the boats have stopped coming.
For months we have heard Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison proudly declare that the boats have stopped! But this event has shown that no amount of cruelty will prevent people from taking desperate measures in search of safety for their families.
The boats are still coming. People have travelled thousands of miles in search of safety. The only thing that has stopped is the government providing information about what is really going on.
What we are hearing is that the Australian Government is attempting a dangerous handover with the Sri Lankan Navy out on the high sea. Scott Morrison is refusing to say a word and the Sri Lankan Navy keep changing their story.
Scott Morrison has insisted that there is ‘nothing significant’ to report. Nothing significant? There are over 30 children, including babies, in distress on the high sea, if that’s not significant Minister, what is?
There are children being held in custody on Australian prison ships in the name of the Australian people.
The implications of this event are more than a just a blemish on the governments ‘stop the boats’ mantra.
If returned to Sri Lanka, our Government risks breaching international law, whilst also destroying the lives of over 150 people who will face almost certain harm if returned to the country from which they have fled.
The cornerstone of our international obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention is the non-refoulement principle, which prohibits returning refugees to places from which they have fled.