Event / In Conversation
In conversation with Richard Ackland
Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: $10/$7 conc. gleeclub welcome
Book: gleebooks - 9660 2333 or Secure Online Booking
In recent years, time-hallowed rescue at sea obligations have been constrained and corroded by an increasingly ruthless and cynical Australian maritime border security system. This system routinely collects large amounts of human and signals intelligence on boats that may be on their way towards Australia’s territorial waters. But it sometimes declines to acknowledge and act on that intelligence when it indicates the possibility of a ‘suspected irregular entry vessel’—a SIEV—in peril at sea.
In five major separate boat sinkings or disappearances since SIEV X in 2001, more than 400 asylum seekers bound for Australia have been lost at sea. In Reluctant Rescuers, Tony Kevin forensically examines what can be learned from exploring the public record on the four more recent tragedies in 2009–2011.
His main conclusion: that the Australian border security system has lost its moral compass. Safety of life at sea must now be reaffirmed as a declared core responsibility of the system.
Reluctant Rescuers will interest anyone concerned with Australian border security and the challenge of irregular arrivals of boat people, from whatever side of this debate they come. Its starting point is the obligation of any civilised government to maintain border policing regimes that respect and care for all human life in peril.
Tony Kevin is a former Australian ambassador whose courageous questions in 2002 sparked off the Senate inquiry into the sinking of SIEV X and who later wrote the prizewinning investigative book A Certain Maritime Incident: the sinking of SIEV X (Scribe, 2004, 2006, 2008) on this subject.
Richard Ackland is an Australian journalist, publisher and lawyer, who has won many awards for his reporting. He initially worked in the financial press and was appointed the Canberra correspondent for the Australian Financial Review during the 1970s. In 1986, he founded his law publishing company, Law Press of Australia, and since then has continued to be the publisher of two important Australian legal journals, Justinian and the Gazette of Law and Journalism. He presented ABC TV's Media Watch in 1998 –1999, and Radio National's Late Night Live and Breakfast programs. As presenter of Media Watch, he won a Gold Walkley for helping to expose the notorious cash for comment affair. He is currently the legal columnist for Fairfax Media and writes a regular column on legal affairs, law and society and the media.