My island home and its limbo culture: cultural sensitivity at its best

Two of the Vietnamese fishing boats in a Darwin boat yard on Thursday. Photo: Glenn Campbell

Two of the Vietnamese fishing boats in a Darwin boat yard on Thursday. Photo: Glenn Campbell

‘Abbott government buys cheaper Vietnamese fishing boats to tow back asylum seekers’ Sarah Whyte, The Sydney Morning Herald’, 06.03.15

A small fleet of brightly coloured Vietnamese fishing boats based in Darwin are believed to be replacing the orange lifeboats used by the Customs and Border Protection department to tow back asylum seeker boats that make it to Australian waters.

Fairfax Media understands that 10 red, blue and green wooden boats have been bought by the Customs department from Dragon Industries Asia as “tow back” boats in a multi-million dollar project.

Having succeeded in “stopping the boats”, it appears the Abbott government has opted for a cheaper alternative to the orange lifeboats, which cost the government $7.5 million last year.

The single-use orange lifeboats. Photo: Michael Bachelard

The single-use orange lifeboats. Photo: Michael Bachelard

It is believed each orange lifeboat, which can only be used once, costs about $200,000.

On the Dragon Industries Asia website it confirms that the Customs and Border Protection Department is a client and that it has has tasked the company to deliver 10 “alternative vessels” from “preliminary design”.

On its online company profile it says: “Recent projects include: Australian Customs and Border Protection 10 x Alternative transportation vessels Supply, project management and delivery.”

“This project was delivered to exceptionally tight deadlines, with final delivery of all vessels within 18 weeks of project inauguration,” it says.

“Upon completion of the vessels Dragon was given a repeat order to be delivered by the end of the last quarter in 2014, further enhancing Dragon’s ability to service it’s [sic] clients quality, delivery and management needs.”

In a company tweet, it shows one of the managers Marc Brujins sitting on a tugboat, with the caption, “moving 5 specialized transportation craft to a heavy lift vessel for final delivery!”

 The boats are now being stored at Spot on Marine in Darwin. A spokeswoman of the firm told Fairfax Media to contact the Customs department for any further information.

When Dragon Industries Asia was contacted on separate days by Fairfax Media, a spokesman said that the company was actually a software company. Then on a separate call, the spokesman refused to hand over the details of the managing director Tim Clements.

In a Facebook message, the company replied to Fairfax Media inquiries saying: “Please be advised that any information in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders must be obtained from the Australian Government.

The immigration department also did not deny the boats had been procured, refusing to answer questions on why the boats had been brought or for what purpose.

A spokesman said: “Customs and Border Protection uses a variety of vessels to prepare for and perform its maritime tasks.”

2 thoughts on “My island home and its limbo culture: cultural sensitivity at its best

  1. $200K disposable boats? How many did they go through before deciding to invest in reusable ones? More importantly, how many permanent homes could you build with all that cash? And if you fired the border sailors and hired social workers, you could settle a lot of families (if you wanted to).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Robert,

      What you process is entirely correct and there are many moral Australians asking the same questions. Prime Minister Abbott (?!) believes he is a staunch Catholic.

      $200K is only the tip of the iceberg of Federal expenditure amounting to billions (by both Liberal and Labor governments – cf. your Republican/Democrat ‘divide’ – or better still, think of both sides of a coin, the smaller the better) to pander to racist prejudice in Australia, made government policy, that traces back to the time of the ‘gold rush’ in the 19th century – known as the ‘White Australia Policy’.

      The relentlessness of this country (with the tacit consent of the great majority of its citizens) to fully exploit its island status at ‘the arse-end of the world’ (an expression made famous by ex-PM Keating) and shovel its international responsibilities and commitments onto any other (smaller and far-less economically developed) nation in the region is an absolute disgrace that has cost the lives of many asylum-seekers.

      And many of these and others have died as a result of living in and or escaping from chaos that Australia itself has been party to causing, with its master the US.

      The whole story of Australia’s response to asylum-seekers will go down in Australian and international history as one of criminal negligence.

      Best regards, Phil

      Liked by 1 person

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