Saving lives at sea must always rank ahead of politics – Arne Rinnan (captain MV Tampa)
In August 2001, the Howard Government of Australia refused permission for the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued Afghans from a distressed fishing vessel in international waters, to enter Australian waters.
When the Tampa entered Australian water, the Howard ordered the ship be boarded by Australian special forces. Within a few days the government introduced the Border Protection Bill saying it will confirm Australian sovereignty to “determine who will enter and reside in Australia”. The government introduced the so-called “Pacific Solution”, whereby the asylum seekers were taken to Nauru where their refugee status was considered, rather than in Australia.
77% of surveyed Australians at this time, said they agreed with the Australian Federal Government’s handling the Tampa crisis, hence this song by the Herd “77%” – which contains the line in the song “77% of Australians are racist”