Senate Extends Sympathy and Regret for SIEV X Victims
Senator Andrew Bartlett
Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland
Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Dated: 16 October 2003
Press Release Number: 03/743
Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Two years after 353 people seeking asylum in Australia died at sea aboard the boat known as the SIEV X, the Senate has passed an Australian Democrats' motion expressing regret and sympathy at the tragic loss of so many innocent lives.
On October 19, 2001 a boat known as the SIEV X, bound for Australia and carrying 421 passengers and crew, sank. A total of 353 people, including 146 children, lost their lives.
Democrats' Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said the Senate agreed to finally acknowledge and express 'regret and sympathy' over the tragedy, which occurred during the 2001 Federal Election campaign.
Senator Bartlett said the acknowledgement of the tragedy also meant the Government must extend compassion to those most affected.
'A number of those who lost their lives had close family members in Australia who are on temporary protection visas. Two years on, those people are still living a precarious existence, unsure of their future,' Senator Bartlett said.
'A young mother who lost three children when the boat sank is just one case. Sondas Ismail was finally been able to join her husband in Australia after being caught up in Indonesia, and now is faced with the ridiculous situation whereby they, and their new baby, all have visas which expire at different times.
'How can people recover from such a tragedy when faced with such a lack of compassion?'
The Democrats' motion called on the Immigration Minister to grant those refugees in Australia on temporary protection visas and who suffered a personal loss through the sinking of SIEV X, a permanent visa on humanitarian grounds.
It also called on the Government to establish an independent judicial inquiry into all aspects of the People Smuggling Disruption Program operated by the Commonwealth Government and agencies from 2000.