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Refugee Ship Master Should Sue Australian Govt

31 August 2001

Refugee Ship Master Should Sue Australian Government

New Zealand First Deputy Leader, and qualified ship’s captain, Peter Brown, says that the master of the Norwegian ship at the centre of a refugee row with Australia, the MV Tampa, should sue the Australian Government for deviation and additional costs.

The Australian Government was the first to ask the ship to take-on the refugees but now refuses to allow them to enter Australia.

“The captain of the Norwegian vessel acted entirely properly by responding to the distress signal from the refugee vessel and the request from the Australian authorities. I believe the master and owner of the MV Tampa should begin legal proceedings for the disgraceful manner I which the problem has been handled,” said Mr Brown.

“The MV Tampa is the true victim in this. It responded to a PAN signal which is one step below a MAYDAY and which signifies the vessel is in a state of distress. The MV Tampa was the Good Samaritan but is now being landed with all the costs.

“Cargo ships only make money when they are at sea. This must be costing the owners of the ship dearly.

“What is worse is that the crew may soon have to deal with a humanitarian disaster, in the form of an inevitable outbreak of sickness. The ship’s crew is not equipped to cope with 400 refugees in a tropical climate.

Mr Brown added that this does not mean that the Australian Government should be forced to accept the refugees or should change its policies towards refugees.

“This would certainly not be the ‘soft option’. Australia has every right to control who it allows to legally enter its territory. It should now process the refugees, see who has a genuine case, and then send the rest back to where they came from. I have no problem with Mr Howard’s stand in this regard.

Mr Brown is considering writing to the Australian High Commission on this issue.


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