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May 29, 2014

The boats have stopped

Crikey readers discuss the issues of the day.

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Coalition’s asylum seeker unequivocally successful

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Asylum seeker lifeboats fail safety standards, says regulator” (yesterday). Once again, Bernard Keane delves into the minutia of our border policies — noting that lifeboats used to send migrants back to Indonesia don’t contain “buckets, knives and fishing lines” and suggests this makes them less safe (or “non-compliant with SOLAS”). But less safe than what? No one has died trying to come to Australia since the government stopped the boats last year. From 2009-2013 under Labor and The Greens, when 51,637 people turned up, at least 1200 died trying. Being transferred from a leaky wooden fishing boat onto an unsinkable lifeboat is a serious safety upgrade. The fact that this policy has stopped the boats and stopped the deaths at sea is a further safety bonus, to say nothing of the impact on our border integrity. Worrying about the removal of “buckets, knives and fishing lines” is pretty weak criticism of an unequivocally successful policy.

Ken Lambert writes: Bernard Keane has worked hard on confecting a scandal over this one. Knives and fishing lines — great for threatening your sovereign borders and self-harm. Seems like Keane should be questioning the people smugglers about the safety of their boats — now there is a scandal. Leaky, rotten and very sinkable when put into water. Perhaps Keane could lodge a complaint with Indonesian officials about the safety of the boats bought and sent to sea from their teeming shores.

It seems like they have stopped coming — safety problem solved — and it seems like none of the smugglers in our orange boats have suffered anything worse than burned hands from grasping those hot exhaust pipes. What a horrible result: dodgy boats have stopped coming, nobody has drowned since Scott Morrison became Immigration  Minister, detention centres closing for lack of inmates, and smugglers going out of business.

And the Indonesian officials are earning honest modest livings while the Australian government saves hundreds of millions of dollars. What a shocking, scandalous policy achievement of the Abbott government.

Too clever by half

Megan Stoyles  writes: Re. “Age of empires” (Tuesday). Does Guy Rundle assume that Crikey readers know that the “Grauniad” is called that in the UK by the satirical magazine Private Eye on account of its typos, or is he being an arcane smarty pants? A more relevant critique would be of Fairfax media, which, with the offshoring and outsourcing of their subediting, now regularly publish typographical howlers that leave The Guardian for dead.

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