Friday, September 6, 2013

The Other Refugees On Boats

When the original group of British convicts was sent to Australia, the major reason Australia was selected was that it was remote. There was no way in hell someone sent to Australia was going to show up in London again. But that doesn't mean a desperate individual can't bridge a gap between Australia and somewhere else. The 'somewhere else' in this case is Indonesia, and much like the United States, the gap between Australia and Indonesia is routinely traversed by people looking to escape dangerous political situations in other countries throughout the region and seeking refuge in the most stable nation they can reach (the United States taking in those from the Americas headed by Mexico; Australia getting those from Asia with no one nation really out front).

The distance from Cuba to Miami is 90 miles. The checkpoint those departing from Indonesia are trying to reach is Christmas Island, about 220 miles off the Indonesian coast, about 2 1/2 times the length from Cuba to Florida. Meaning a longer trek, and more opportunity to not make it. The general quality of the boats is worse than the ones departing from Cuba, too.

It's become a major plot point in the presidential campaign currently underway between incumbent Kevin Rudd, who has taken a hard line against those trying to reach Australia, and challenger Tony Abbott, who has unveiled a boat buy-back plan that has been widely and quickly ridiculed. This has led David O'Shea to head to Indonesia...

UPDATE: The polls have closed. Tony Abbott has won.

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