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BFCSA: ABBOTT to Blame and the facts on boat arrivals that the media won’t face

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The facts on boat arrivals that the media won’t face

Pearls and Irritations 8 March 2019

John Menadue


From September 2015, almost four years ago, Peter Hughes and I have pointed out repeatedly that Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison triggered the surge in boat arrivals from September 2011 and did not stop the boats as they claim from December 2013 when Operation Sovereign Borders commenced.

The facts that Peter Hughes and I have set out have not been challenged.  They have not been disputed in any way.  But the mainstream media continues to accept  Coalition spin on boats.

Perhaps our mainstream media have trouble with tables.  So I decided to set out the facts in graph form, below.

There are two graphs on boat arrivals 2011-2014. The first graph describes the ‘raw’ data, whereas the second graph omits the monsoon months.The monsoon varies from year to year but usually runs January to March. This second graph, excluding the monsoon months is probably a better measure of boat arrivals in response to government policies.


Source for Graphs:  Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Submission to the Select Committee on the Recent Allegations relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru, May 2015. (Submission 31),   Data on Attachment H, following P 87.

There were three critical ‘decision months’.

The first was September 2011 when the Coalition in the House of Representatives with the help of the Green MP and Independents rejected amendments to the Migration Act which would have enabled the Gillard government to implement the Malaysian Arrangement.  It was necessary to amend the Migration Act in light of a High Court decision.

Under the Malaysian Arrangement 800 boat arrivals would initially be repatriated to Malaysia and Australia would accept 4,000 refugees from Malaysia who had been orderly processed in Malaysia in cooperation with the UNHCR.

With the collapse of the Malaysian Arrangement, when boats were arriving at 4 to 5 per month, there was a steady and then rapid increase in boat arrivals until July 2013 when 48 boats arrived.

The second critical ‘decision month’ was July 2013.  In that month the Rudd government announced that any people arriving by boat would never be settled in Australia.  As a result, boat arrivals fell dramatically from 48 in July to 7 in December 2013 when OSB commenced.

The third critical ‘decision month’ was December 2013 when, with great fanfare, Operation Sovereign Borders commenced. But when OSB commenced the job was almost done as the graphs show. Boat arrivals were by then only a trickle. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison were involved only in cleaning up a few loose ends. The job was substantially done by the time OSB commenced.

I hope that with these easy to follow graphs, our mainstream media can at last understand three things.

The first is that by defeating the means to implement the Malaysian Arrangement, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison triggered the surge in boat arrivals from September 2011 onwards.

The second is that the decision by the Rudd government in July 2013 to refuse settlement in Australia for any persons arriving by boat after that date, resulted in a dramatic reduction in boat arrivals from 48 to 7. That was the game changer.

Third, when OSB commenced in December 2013, boat arrivals had almost stopped.

Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison did not stop the boats.  What is clear is that they did not want Labor to stop the boats.

The mainstream media has fallen for the Coalition’s spin on boats for almost four years.  Perhaps the graphs will make it easier for journalists to understand. I am not confident. It is hard to admit that you have been conned.

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