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The Hate Boat

All of Australia's Asylum Seeker News in One Depressing Weekly Post

Death on Manus Island, dodgy security firms, SEIV spotting drones, and a call from the Iranian government.
February 19, 2014, 5:42am

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The current Australian Government was voted in last year for one reason—to get rid of Labor. But a big part of their campaign was also about Stopping The Boats. The Immigration Minister used to inform the public (through the media) on asylum seeker issues during his weekly briefings. But since those have now stopped, VICE is stepping in to provide our own weekly briefing on stop-the-boats activities so you don't need to go to the trouble of reading the actual news.

–The biggest news is that an asylum seeker is dead and it didn't happen on the high seas. While details are hard to find, the ABC's correspondent Liam Cochrane has spoken to someone who was inside the Manus Island centre where the riots happened, who said the man died after someone outside threw a rock which hit him on the head. Another detainee was shot in the butt. No-one has said who the shooter was, but it seems that it was either G4S guards or the PNG police mobile squad, a paramilitary force that's funded by the Australian Government and which is known for 'knocking a few heads in' to sort out problems.

For the uninitiated, G4S is a huge multinational company that's responsible for security at the centre. It's also known for major stuff-ups during the London Olympics, as well as charging the UK Government 24 million pounds to surveil criminals who were actually already dead. There are currently two other fraud investigations into the company going on in the UK.

Earlier this year one of the G4S supervisors got in trouble for RALMFAO-ing on Facebook when one of the detainees swallowed a pair of nail clippers in a self-harm attempt. At Davos last year G4S was given the award for third worst company in the world.

What a track record. It's good to know we're paying such a professional company $80 million each year.

In terms of official comment, the Immigration Minister has confirmed that the PNG police did fire shots twice. But he has not confirmed that they were the same shots that ended up in that poor guy's ass. The origin of the butt bullet remains a mystery.

–The Iranian Government has called in Australia's Ambassador over the death of the Iranian asylum seeker on Manus Island. It's understood that the Foreign Ministry in Iran is unhappy about Australia stepping on their toes—'it's our job to kill dissidents, not yours!'

–The Immigration Department mistakenly published the names of every asylum seeker currently in detention in mainland Australia and Christmas Island or in the community, a breach of privacy laws and a move that could endanger the lives of those people if their claims are rejected and they're sent home. Which means they probably have new grounds to apply for asylum.

–The Government is thinking about spending $3 billion to buy up to seven drones to help spot enemy planes and warships, which will probably be useful if Indonesia declares war on us, a situation which becomes more likely every day Operation Sovereign Borders exists. The handy thing about the drones is that in addition to this, they can also spot asylum seeker boats, so the Navy can get to them faster and tow them back more efficiently. The plan will be put to Cabinet by the Defence Minister, David Johnston, who may have come up with the plan because he wanted to remind everyone that he's in charge of Australia’s military, not Scott Morrison.

–The Government has released a report into how navy ships entered Indonesian waters (they're not allowed to do that). The report says that the brave men and women of the navy inadvertently miscalculated where Indonesian waters start. Six times. It could happen to anyone! Well no, say the Indonesians. Given how GPS systems work these days, it's highly unlikely you can miscalculate something so important once, let alone six times. The answer? The navy should do some training, according to the report. When you take into account the fact that the Australian Government listens in to their conversations about shrimp prices, you can understand that the Indonesians might be getting a little bit uneasy.

As yet there's been no investigation launched into the accusations that navy personnel deliberately burnt the hands of asylum seekers, despite a poll showing that more than two-thirds of Australian voters want an investigation.

–The riots on Manus Island happened after detainees were told they would never be settled in Australia but could look forward to a nice life in PNG. Obviously they see the glass half empty. On a range of indicators, PNG is as good as the places they came from, if not slightly better. When it comes to life expectancy, you're statistically going to live one year longer in PNG than you are in South Sudan. If you're from Somalia you're extending your life expectancy by 10 years!

And when it comes to corruption, you're going to feel right at home too, particularly if you're from Iran which has the same ranking according to Transparency International. If you're from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or South Sudan you're likely to be pleasantly surprised by the one in four government officials who don't ask you for bribes.

And all asylum seekers can feel safe in the knowledge that the homicide rate is a little bit lower in PNG than in countries like Sudan and Honduras according to the UN. Ok, it is four times higher in PNG than in places like Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq, but at least you won't be killed for your religious or political beliefs (unless you're into black magic or you're a witch or someone accuses you of being a witch)

–Overall this week, the Government has been pretty diligent in its efforts to make seeking asylum in Australia a pretty lousy option.