17 June 2002
Yesterday the Minister of Defence, Robert Hill stated on Channel Nine's Sunday Program that the Government didn't know where SIEVX sank. This morning Margo Kingston has included a transcript of the leaked minutes of the People Smuggling Taskforce that state that SIEVX went down in International waters.
This sharply contradicts John Howard, who is on the record repeating the mantra 'it sank in indonesian waters':
With Paul Murray on 23 October:
[T]hat is a desperate slur. A desperate slur. This vessel sunk in indonesian waters. Now I am saddened by the loss of life, it is a huge human tragedy and it is a desperately despicable thing for the Leader of the Opposition to try and score a political point against me in relation to the sinking of a vessel in indonesian waters. We had nothing to do with it, it sank, I repeat, sunk in indonesian waters, not in Australian waters. It sunk in indonesian waters and apparently that is our fault. Isn't it interesting, every time something goes wrong and you've got a choice between the Australian Government, blaming somebody else overseas, Mr Beazley always blames the Australian Government, we're always at fault.
Announcing Border Protection Policy in Perth on 23 October:
[T]his morning may I say we've had the absolutely contemptible contribution of the Leader of the Opposition in the wake of that appalling human tragedy where something like 350 lives appear to have been lost when a vessel sank in indonesian waters, probably containing people wanting to come to Australia. It sank in indonesian waters, yet Mr Beazley has tried to exploit that human tragedy to score a cheap political point. He implied that that happened because of a failure of policy on our part. I think that is contemptible. It's alright to attack your opponent on legitimate grounds but to try and score a cheap political point out of an immense human tragedy such as that I regard as completely contemptible. If anybody is to be blamed for that appalling tragedy it's the people smugglers, not the Government of Australia, not the Government of Indonesia but the people smugglers.
With Liam Bartlett on 24 October:
That boat sank in indonesian waters, it sank in indonesian waters. It had nothing to do with the actions of the Australian Government
With Andrew Fowler on 28 October:
I'm like every other human being. I was saddened by that terrible, terrible event. I mean, the ship sank in indonesian waters -- it wasn't our fault, despite what Mr Beazley inferred and others wrongly claimed.
With Steve Liebmann on 29 October:
I feel enormous compassion for those poor people whose relatives died in that vessel but that ship sank in indonesian waters and it's just nonsense that people should run around and in some way try and blame the Australian Government or Australian policy for that.
At the National Press Club on 8 November:
[L]ike any human being, I was very touched by that tragedy in indonesian waters and that poor man who lost his three daughters. I'm human like everybody else and that touched me very greatly and that is why I was so angry that Mr Beazley sought to imply in some way that I and my colleagues were responsible for it