Senate blocks inquiry into asylum seeker tragedy

15/10/2008 by Sarah Hanson-Young

A motion calling for a judicial inquiry into the Commonwealth Government’s People Smuggling Strike Team’s actions, including those concerning the boat known as SIEV X and its tragic loss of life, has been voted down by the Senate.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young moved the motion, which also called for recognition of the seventh anniversary on October 19 of the SIEV X’s sinking, from which 353 lives were lost. The Greens and other cross-bench senators supported it; the Government and Opposition voted against.

Senator Hanson-Young said it was disappointing that the Government in particular had not supported a judicial inquiry.

“While in Opposition, Labor was outspoken on the Howard Government’s people smuggling disruption policies and handling of the SIEV X tragedy,” she said.

“In September 2002, Senator John Faulkner declared he would continue to press for a judicial inquiry into what he described as ‘very serious matters’.

“What on earth could have changed over the past six years such that the loss of 353 lives, including 146 children, is no longer a serious enough matter to deserve a judicial inquiry?”

Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens would continue to push for a judicial inquiry into the matter.

“Australia has much to do to restore its international obligations to asylum seekers,” she said.

“A judicial inquiry would allow the truth to be uncovered around this appalling blight on Australia’s history books, and act as a measure to ensure that such horror will never happen again.”

The text of Senator Hanson-Young’s motion follows.

The Senate

(a) notes that:
i) October 19, marks the 7th anniversary of a boat known as the SIEV X, bound for Australia and carrying 421 passengers and crew;
ii) This boat sank with the tragic loss of 353 lives, including 146 children; and
iii) In Opposition, the Government repeatedly expressed its anger and frustration with the former Government's inaction on establishing a full judicial inquiry into the SIEV X tragedy;

(b) expresses its regret and sympathy at the tragic loss of so many innocent lives; and

(c) calls on the Government to immediately establish an independent judicial inquiry into all aspects of the People Smuggling Strike Team operated by the Commonwealth Government from 2000 to date, in particular the boat known as SIEV X.


Back to