That Sinking Feeling

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Author: Paul Toohey
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Tony Abbott promised to stop the boats. With the help of Kevin Rudd's 'PNG solution,' he has. But at what cost?

In Quarterly Essay 53, Paul Toohey tells the dramatic stories of asylum seekers heading from Java to Australia, investigates people-smuggling and witnesses the aftermath of a sinking at sea.

Toohey also examines Australian attitudes to boat people, and what politicians have made of these. He assesses the diplomatic fall-out from turning back boats and asks: have we missed our chance for an Indonesian solution, a realistic alternative to the brutally effective system we now have? This is an unflinching look at people at their worst and best - and most ruthless and most vulnerable - by one of Australia's finest reporters.

'Any hope for a genuine regional solution rested with Indonesia, the final stepping stone to Australia . . . Why did neither Howard, in his better times with Indonesia, or Labor, from 2007, seek a one-on-one solution with Indonesia? 'The Indonesian Solution.' Those words would have been the most convincing political statement any Australian government could ever deliver to Australian voters on asylum seekers.' Paul Toohey, That Sinking Feeling

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