JOHN MENADUE. Scott Morrison did not stop the boats

With the appointment of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister we will witness again the repetition of the myth that the Coalition and Operation Sovereign Borders stopped the boats. They did not.

 I expect that many in the media will also  climb aboard again to continue the myth about the stopping of the boats. Perhaps being careless in the first place the media finds it embarrassing to admit error.  

Peter Hughes and I posted two blogs in September 2015 (‘Slogans versus facts on boat arrivals’ Part 1 and Part 2) that pointed out first, that Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison kept the door open for tens of thousands of boat people arrivals by opposing legislation that would have enabled implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement of September 2011. Secondly, we pointed out that Tony Abbott’s and Scott Morrison’s role in ‘stopping the boats’ was at the margins and vastly overstated.

Since then Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton  and others have continued their spin about how they stopped the boats. Unfortunately, our mainstream media were duped in the first place by uncritically accepting the Coalition’s line in the confused period of the changeover of governments and in the drama and secrecy surrounding a small number of turn backs.

Our main conclusion in those posts was that:

By the time Operation Sovereign Borders geared up for its first boat turn backs on 19 December 2013, the number of boat arrivals was down from 48 in July 2013 to only seven in December 2013. OSB applied only to the tail end of the boat drama. The ‘game-changer’ was Kevin Rudd’s announcement in July 2013 that people arriving by boat after that time would not be settled in Australia.

Arguably boat turn backs would not have been successful at all without the July 2013 decision. For example, the Navy and Customs were able to turn back three boats in December 2013 after the introduction of OSB. It’s hard to believe that it would have been physically possible to turn back 48 boats if they had continued at the monthly rate that occurred in July 2013 and that Indonesia would have quietly acquiesced.

In short, Tony Abbott  and Scott Morrison in Opposition gave the green light to people smugglers by opposing the implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement in September 2011. In Government, Operation Sovereign Borders, had a marginal effect on boat arrivals. By the time OSB came into effect, the number of boat arrivals had been dramatically reduced.

Scott Morrison and his hero Tony Abbott did not stop the boats. Yet the myth persists that they did.

It is a striking illustration of the view that if you keep repeating a lie long enough some people will believe it.

Political spin and lazy journalism are obscuring the truth.


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11 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Scott Morrison did not stop the boats

  1. Jeff Lawson says:

    Done to add to subscription list.

  2. John McRae says:

    Essential to the LNP lies was the absolute secrecy applied to “on water matters”. It was claimed that this was a military necessity. I can imagine a commander suggesting the need for secrecy but Morrison took it on with gusto as it allowed him to then claim anything at any time. That is he could lie to his heart’s content as the military personnel involved would never be free to expose the lies under threat of prosecution.
    Thus I have never believed anything Morrison and subsequently Dutton claimed.

  3. j austen says:

    Mr Menadue
    given a ‘boat’ arrived just after Mr Morrison became Prime Minister…….

    we can but hope the search focuses on ensuring the safety of the people who were on board.

  4. David Macilwain says:

    There is another falsehood, or piece of spin that is endlessly repeated by pols on both sides of government, that their inhumane asylum seeker policies were motivated by the desire to “stop people drowning at sea”. Leaders and opposition continued to say this even in the face of more people drowning as result of the failure to either rescue them or take effective preventative action, and media rarely if ever pulled them up for it. This was despite some evidence, or suspicion that some covert operations may have caused or provoked such maritime disasters.
    I always found it particularly offensive that those how sought to keep legitimate asylum seekers (“illegals”) out, but could find no legitimate excuse or method of doing so were allowed to fall back on this false humanity.
    As has been said before, if we were so concerned about the danger of people drowning, why didn’t we arrange for immigrants to travel by air…?

  5. Michael D. Breen says:

    Agree with Rosemary above.
    And it reminds me of the other lie about children being thrown into the sea perpetrated by the grand puppet master Howard. Still at it by the way.

  6. Jim KABLE says:

    Similarly to Rosemary – I noted that grand lie – and on the ABC. But further to your article, John, as I understand over the past couple of years – there is the added deviousness of the LNP in that other boats have been towed out of Australian territorial waters (sometimes while actually outside Australian waters) into dangerous waters – just not reported as having been turned back. There is nothing this government does that can be trusted. Whether it is the government of Turnbull or that of Scummy Scomo on-water-matters Morrison.

  7. paul walter says:

    They stop the reportage, not the boats.

    Besides, even by their standards it would be nothing to be proud of.

  8. Richard Ure says:

    The Big Lie and there are many of them. Works every time

  9. Kien Choong says:

    I wonder if the way to change Australia’s policy on boat migrants is to organise regular public discussions to debate the relative merits of various proposals, such as the current policy (at one extreme), an “open door policy” (at the other extreme), and the Malaysia Arrangement (which I personally think is a reasonable policy).

    While we might not get unanimity on what a perfect policy is, we might get broad agreement on what the best alternative to the current policy is.

    Suppose we were to hold annual conferences in every capital city (or at least 5 capital cities) each year, inviting academics and journalists to participate (perhaps Geraldine Doogue could chair), we might eventually build community consensus on a better policy.

    Democracy works best through good reasoning and public discussion!

  10. Nigel Drake says:

    Lies, lies and more lies; the currency of modern politics.
    Enabled by a mass of intellectually lazy and/or deficient and/or apathetic voters disinformed and encouraged by dishonest and devious commercial mainstream media.

  11. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Oh boy!
    The claim that Scott Morrison stopped the boats made me pause – yesterday. But I hadn’t the details at hand or accessible to correct -facts.
    Thanks for sharpening the little-bit-lazy grey cells.

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