The children overboard affair was an australian political controversy involving public allegations by howard government ministers in october 2001, in the lead-up to a federal election, that seafaring asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in a presumed ploy to secure rescue and passage to australia. A decade on from the tampa affair we are watching the gillard government founder as it searches for a way to stop the boats the response to the tampa was a circuit-breaker for the coalition, and labor wants to find something similar, more in an effort to rescue its political future than out of any attempt to develop coherent policy. A new documentary called leaky boat reveals insider information from public servants involved in the 2001 children overboard affair and tampa crisis. Former defence force personnel have spoken out about the tampa and children overboard affair, accusing the howard government of manipulating events for political purposes. The children overboard affair in early october 2001, senior government officials allege that asylum seekers on siev 4 threw their children overboard in a ploy to secure rescue and passage to australian territory.
On august 26, the mv tampa, a norwegian cargo ship en route from fremantle to singapore, answered a call from the australian coast guard and rescued the crew and passengers of the palapa. The australian government's handling of the tampa affair and implementation of the pacific solution attracted international criticism however, in the six years from 2002 only 23 boats arrived in australia compared to 43 carrying more than 5000 asylum-seekers in 2001 alone. The senate inquiry into a certain maritime incident began hearings nearly four months ago after the parliamentary opposition parties voted to investigate government lies about another asylum-seeker incident that occurred during last year's election campaign - the so-called children overboard affair.
The children overboard affair refers to claims made two days into the 2001 australian election campaign by the then immigration minister, phillip ruddock ruddock claimed that asylum seekers had thrown babies overboard from a fishing boat as a way of pressuring the australian navy to rescue them and. The vessel involved in the children overboard affair was the siev-4 the vessel that sank in 2001, killing 353 asylum seekers (mostly women and children) was designated by the press as siev x (a temporary operational term used by coastwatch prior to designation, the siev-x often referred to in the press was reported not to have been detected. The siev-x incident occurred during the 2001 australian federal election campaign the tampa affair had focused national media's attention on the issue of asylum seekers prime minister john howard claimed his policy would prevent people smuggling and stop the boats of asylum seekers from arriving in australia. In such situations facts can be distorted (as demonstrated with the children overboard incident), and if wwl had chosen not to communicate developments, its reputation could have been harmed in summary, the tampa crisis presented many unusual communication challenges that are seldom combined in one crisis management project.
Current interest in the children overboard incident provides an apt opportunity to reanalyse the role of the government, and to look at lessons activists can take from the affair a useful tool for doing this is the backfire model, an extension of the concept of political jiu-jitsu. It also emerged, from video evidence of the children overboard incident, that a little girl was dangled from the side of the boat, and a threat was made to drop the child into the water, although there was no evidence that this threat was carried out. The children overboard affair is the most perilous political problem that has faced the howard government since it was first elected in march, 1996 if it can be proved that the prime minister. The howard government later falsely claimed the refugees had thrown children overboard the age has tracked down an interviewed asylum seekers involved with the tampa their stories are on this page.
The tampa affair spurred the australian government to quickly resolve the issue of its outlying islands becoming a closer landing point for potential asylum seekers in september 2001, a month after the tampa incident, the australian federal parliament passed legislation that excised island territories from the australian migration zone. Chapter 2 - the 'children overboard' incident 21 to help place the significance of mr scrafton's evidence in context, this chapter presents an abridged chronology of the 'children overboard' incident and the events that unfolded subsequently.
Abc news report of the tampa affair and its political context, october 2001 in august 2001, the howard government of australia refused permission for the norwegian freighter mv tampa , carrying 433 rescued refugees (predominantly hazaras of afghanistan from a distressed fishing vessel in international waters) and 5 crew to enter australian waters. The incident came to be known as the children overboard affair after the government falsely claimed that the refugees were throwing infants into the water to try and force officials to bring. The now resurfacing children overboard controversy and the open letter from the group of 43 ex-diplomats and public servant heads questioning the howard government's honesty will further tarnish the government's reputation and increase the public's mistrust of howard and his government.