In August 2001 a Norwegian vessel, the MV Tampa picked up 433 asylum seekers from a boat sinking in international waters between Australia and Indonesia. What the Howard government did in response created waves internationally. By denying the Tampa and its cargo of asylum seekers permission to dock at Christmas Island, Australia signalled that it was dramatically closing its national borders. Trading on fear, and rushing legislation to give their move legal backing, the government effectively excluded asylum seekers from the Australian courts.
In Tampering With Asylum Brennan argues that the government’s response was a major overreaction, possible only in a remote country such as Australia with few asylum seekers and no land borders. He compares Australia’s policy with that of the United States and Europe and provides a practical blueprint for countries wanting to humanely protect asylum seekers. The revised edition features an epilogue bringing the book up to date with the latest developments, including the Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez Solon cases, Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou’s successful campaign to free children from detention centres and the Senate’s thwarting of the government’s 2006 attempt to extend the Pacific Solution.