You can die at sea, Tamils warned

Paige Taylor’ 12/5/10; (4 Items)

A Sri Lankan asylum-seeker says his countrymen must learn that the long journey across the Indian Ocean is perilous.  Since November last year, 17 Sri Lankans, including teenage brothers aged 13 and 14, have died in two separate incidents trying to reach Christmas Island. The survivors of the most recent tragedy, mainly Tamils, are in detention on Christmas Island, where they say they did not know help was coming when five of their fellow passengers jumped overboard in a doomed attempt to swim to land. Pararasasingam Paheertharan, who survived when 12 of his fellow passengers drowned off the Cocos (Keeling) Islands last November, told The Australian it was important to publicise the dangers of the long journey. “I think we have to express this terrible voyage to all the media,” he said.


‘Illegals’ to cure coalition headaches?
Bella Counihan; 11/5/0
Almost as predictable as US anti-gay activist George Rekkers being caught with a male escort from, is a conservative party reaching for the “illegal” migration pill to cure any electoral headaches. Despite new poll numbers showing the tide turning against Rudd, the opposition would still have to perform a small miracle to oust this first-time government so why not use every trick in the ol’ conservative hand book? Probably because, unfortunately, it still seems to titillate the electorate and create a few more coalition voters.

Population zealots aim at the wrong targets
Stephen Kirchner; 12/5/10
Population growth has become a political issue, with the federal government establishing a portfolio with the task of developing a population strategy, while the opposition has threatened to reduce net immigration. However, it would be a mistake to tailor population policy and the size of the immigration intake to domestic policy failures in areas such as housing, infrastructure and the labour market.The pressures of a growing population instead should be seen as adding to the case for the much-needed structural reforms that have been neglected by successive governments at both the state and federal levels.Although the federal government has disavowed the notion of a population target, there is still a persistent view that the task for government is to find the correct level or growth rate for the Australian population.

People, not points
The drowning of five men (“Sri Lankan boatpeople who swam for help panicked in rescue bid”, 11/5) shows the desperation and courage in the face of demonstrated danger and death at home of asylum-seekers who grab the chance of a dangerous boat journey to freedom. Do we want to deny them the right to seek asylum? What if their claims of persecution are credible? Do we embrace such people or reject them? This latest tragedy is yet another urgent call for a human focus, not a political one. Frederika Steen, Chapel Hill, Qld