INTERVIEW WITH TONY KEVIN, FORMER DIPLOMAT, IN CANBERRA
SBS World News
23 October 2002
We spoke to former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin who's questioned Australia's actions in the SIEV-X affair.
MARY KOSTAKIDIS: Are you satisfied that the Defence Force is blameless in the SIEV-X affair?
TONY KEVIN, FORMER DIPLOMAT: No, I'm not, Mary and, more importantly, the three Labor senators and Senator Bartlett and, I'm advised Senator Brown as well, are not satisfied. The key points that came out of the discussion I heard this afternoon in the Senate were, firstly, that Mr Howard had lied on October 23 and 24 when he said that the boat sank in Indonesian waters and was not an Australian responsibility. In fact, there was intelligence available to him on that day that it had sank 60 nautical miles south of Indonesia in the Australian operational zone which was also the Australian search and rescue zone. There were two other points - firstly that there was a persistent failure to attend to the safety of life at sea of asylum seekers which, of course, applied as much to the SIEV-X people as to the people on the other boats that were actually intercepted, which Senator Collins spoke about very well. And, finally, and most importantly, the three Labor senators and the Democrats Senator and I believe, the Greens all support and will continue to support a full, independent judicial inquiry, given the very any black holes and failures to provide information that senators confronted.
MARY KOSTAKIDIS: What do you make of the Government refusing to allow members of the Australian Defence Force to give evidence to the inquiry?
TONY KEVIN: The Government are clearly hiding a great deal. They're hiding a lack of compassion. They're possibly hiding something worse. It was clear that the people-smuggling disruption program involved the Australian Defence Force working with some pretty disreputable and ruthless elements in Indonesia that were known to have sabotaged boats and engaged in ruthless sting operations, setting up false voyages. It's not a very big smoking gun to go from there to SIEV-X and I'm very heartened - and I'm sure many people around Australia who have attended SIEV-X rallies over this very sad anniversary weekend - will be heartened with the position taken by the three Opposition parties.