Quarterly Essay 53
That Sinking Feeling: Asylum Seekers and the Search for the Indonesian Solution
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- March 2014
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In the first Quarterly Essay of 2014, Paul Toohey searches for the solution our politicians have been unwilling or unable to find, and asks whether, amid the diplomatic turmoil, we’ve now missed our chance. Tony Abbott promised to stop the boats. With the help of Kevin Rudd’s “PNG solution”, he has. But at what cost?
Visiting the Indonesian departure points, Toohey tells the dramatic stories of asylum seekers heading from Java to Australia, investigates people-smuggling and witnesses the aftermath of a sinking at sea. He examines the individual policies and outcomes of the Howard, Rudd, Gillard and now Abbott governments. He also interrogates Australian attitudes to boat people, and what politicians have made of these.
This engaging, powerful essay provides the untold personal stories of those waiting to make the dangerous journey, and the long view of this fraught issue. That Sinking Feeling is an unflinching look at people at their worst and best – and most ruthless and most vulnerable – by one of Australia’s finest reporters.
“Any hope for a genuine regional solution rested with Indonesia, the final stepping stone to Australia ... Why did neither Howard, in his better times with Indonesia, or Labor, from 2007, seek a one-on-one solution with Indonesia? ‘The Indonesian Solution.’ Those words would have been the most convincing political statement any Australian government could ever deliver to Australian voters on asylum seekers.” – Paul Toohey, That Sinking Feeling
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This issue also contains correspondence relating to the previous issue QE52 Found in Translation by Linda Jaivin. Correspondence relating to QE53 will appear in the next issue.