Next time, let them all drown. This is what happens when you rescue Muslim illegal invaders who intentionally damage their boat, knowing that Australia will have to help them. Survivors of Christmas Island asylum seeker disaster in 2010 sue federal government. Fortunately, the new Abbott government is no longer allowing these illegal alien boat people into Australia.
SMH (h/t David P) Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has condemned a lawsuit brought against the Federal Government over a (phony) asylum seeker disaster in 2010 off Christmas Island in which 50 people died. The Commonwealth is being sued for breaching its duty of care over the tragedy, although full details of the case aren’t yet available.
The case has been launched by human rights lawyer George Newhouse who represented survivors at the 2012 inquest, arguing at the time that government policies were putting lives at risk. Mr Morrison said on Monday in Canberra that the claim ”beggars belief”.
”This is like someone who was saved from a fire suing the firemen. It’s like someone who has been saved by an ambulance officer at the scene of an accident being sued for saving the person’s life,” he told reporters on the way into Parliament House.
”This is really, I think, a shameful and offensive claim to be bringing and again, I just want to give my total support to the men and women of the Australian Customs and Border protection service and the Australian Navy whose reputation, whose character and whose conduct on that day is unimpeachable.”
He said Labor’s immigration minister at the time, Brendan O’Connor supported the government’s stance on the lawsuit, which stems from the tragedy on December 15, 2010 when the asylum seeker boat known as SIEV 221 (suspected irregular entry vessel 221) smashed onto rocks on Christmas Island.
Mr O’Connor, who was home affairs minister at the time of the shipwreck, said many brave deeds were done to rescue the asylum seekers. ”Unfortunately, people died but many more would have died without the good work of the naval and customs personnel,” he told reporters.
The Australian Greens also praised the efforts of rescuers but called for an independent review of search and rescue protocols. Mr Newhouse told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that Mr Morrison’s comments were ”the kind of ignorant response that you’d expect from a minister that misled the Australian people about the Manus Island riots”.
”This case has nothing at all to do with suing the paramedics or the ambulance men or women, it’s about a government failing to provide the paramedic with a working ambulance,” he told Fairfax Media. Mr Newhouse said 50 lives could have been saved if the Christmas Island rescue service had a functional boat that they could have launched off the island on the night in question.
”That’s what this case is about and Mr Morrison is simply misleading the Australian people by suggesting otherwise,” he said. The claim lodged by Shine Lawyers alleges the government failed in its duty of care to the 89 passengers and three crew aboard the vessel.
Mr Newhouse told ABC radio earlier on Tuesday that he believed the case would show the authorities failed to establish an appropriate lookout for the vessel and were unprepared for the rescue. ”There was a rescue service that had been established by the Commonwealth so they knew that there was a need for rescuing but not one of the vessels was seaworthy that fateful morning,” he said.
Aboard the asylum seeker vessel were 89 Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers and three crew. In the monsoon weather, the vessel escaped detection and it was residents on the island watching the tragedy unfold who raised the alarm. After an eight-month hearing, coroner Alastair Hope laid the blame firmly on the people smugglers.
But he criticised Commonwealth authorities for the lack of adequate rescue vessels on the island. He also urged that measures be taken to increase surveillance of waters around Christmas Island for incoming asylum seeker vessels.
Mr Morrison told parliament on Monday night that he had just been alerted of the planned legal action. He strongly defended customs and border protection officials and Navy personnel involved in responding to this terrible incident. ”(They) have our absolute respect and our absolute confidence and they have been rightly praised for their heroism and their bravery,” he said.
Mr Newhouse, a Labor candidate at the 2007 election and head of the social justice practice at Shine Lawyers, has conducted a succession of asylum seeker cases. He’s participating in the current constitutional challenge to the legality of Australia’s asylum seeker processing centre on Nauru in the Nauru Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the Abbott government will get Labor’s support in its attempt to crackdown on visa applications by asylum seekers. A wide-ranging bill labelled as ”technical and difficult” by both sides of the lower house was passed on Monday, aiming to close legal avenues available to asylum seekers.
”It stops them from using our judicial system and taxpayer money to stay here,” Liberal MP Don Randall said.
From the opposition benches Graham Perrett said the legislation addressed inconsistencies in the Migration Act, and signalled that Labor would back the bill. Under the changes, minors or mentally-impaired visa applicants refused visas can’t themselves, or have others, make further applications.