Ministerial intervention powers are designed to deal with compassionate and exceptional circumstances otherwise not covered in the legislation. I have personally seen those powers exercised.
The argument is not are they or are they not refugees. That determination has been made but is there other exceptional and compassionate circumstances that should be considered? On the face of it, it would appear there are.
That a government should be so scared of one family is amazing. Their fear is that somehow the whole policy settings around boat turnbacks would crumble. I would expect that quite a few boat arrivals have probably been resettled into the community on a temporary visa which at some stage may convert to permanent ones when no one is looking. It is always easier to find solutions under the radar when no one is looking.
There is another morally bankrupt argument about avoiding drownings and saving lives. If the Coalition had ever been serious about it they would have supported the Malaysia Arrangement a decade ago. But for their own venal political purposes and with the help of the tame media it opposed the Arrangement. The Coalition did not want to stop the boats. It wanted to stop Labour from stopping the boats. It was an election plus for the Coalition and the results proved it correct. Tony Abbott now out of office acknowledges they should have supported the Malaysian Arrangement.
As a matter of, course Ministers will be receiving intelligence and other reporting on possible boat movements. This will not have stopped. It is also true that smugglers will try and exploit any loopholes and I would expect there have been attempts, most probably unsuccessful but we don’t know because of the secrecy that prevails.
However, so long as the policy of boat turnbacks remains there will be few attempts to reach Australia by boat irrespective of whether a family are granted stay in Australia after almost 10 years here. A smuggler will not use a method that is likely to fail. They have more lucrative options, particularly by air. Smugglers are like hydras. Chop off one head and two will grow in its place.
As Abul Rizvi pointed out in Pearls and Irritations yesterday that with the help of people smugglers there has been an enormous increase in asylum seekers coming by air
Over the past 6-7 years, the Government has presided over the biggest labour trafficking scam and abuse of Australia’s asylum system in our history. As a result of that scam, there are currently over 27,000 unsuccessful asylum seekers living in the community – this number will rise significantly as more of the huge backlog of applications are processed. Legally, these people are in the same position as the Biloela family yet these unsuccessful asylum seekers have not had a team of Border Force officers fly to a remote Queensland town to pick them up and put them into detention? Why not? The prime reason is that these people arrived by aeroplane while the current Government was in power and not by boat while the Rudd Government was in power.
In my public life, I have not seen much to beat all this for cruelty and hypocrisy.
Abbott and Morrison did not stop the boats, but the media collaborated in the spin
John Menadue was Secretary Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs 1980-83. That was during the Indo-China refugee outflow of over 100,000 people to Australia.