23 April 2003

Testing time for Philip Ruddock

So a group of 42 Vietnamese asylum seekers have decided to brave the elements and escape from a repressive communist regime and are attempting to reach our shores (The Age, 22/4), just like thousands of others over years.

Should they manage to leave Indonesian waters en route for Australia, as is expected, the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, could well find himself faced with several choices:

  • Keep playing Sergeant Schultz and hope it all goes away.

  • Let them land and fairly assess their claims for refugee status under our law and international obligations.

  • Send them to Nauru at the cost of $2000 a week each plus warship transport.

  • Cut off all the outer islands just in case they land there, then presumably leave them to the sharks.

  • Hope for the Tampa to arrive.

  • Go and rescue them under our international obligations to those in trouble at sea.

  • Let them drown for the whole world to see.

It'll be up to you, Mr Ruddock.

Marilyn Shepherd, Kensington, SA

Grist for the mill

The discovery of the boatload of 42 Vietnamese asylum seekers heading for our shores should be enough to crank up the "we are about to be invaded" crowd and a Federal Government that is more than willing to feed on this unfounded fear and xenophobia.

Some might even see it as a plus if the boat sank en route, taking many of those seeking a better life to a watery grave. After all, this would not be the first time we had turned a blind eye to the sinking of a boatload of asylum seekers and the resultant loss of life.

D. J. Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Qld

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