27 Aug 2005

Rally in Australia highlights four years since Tampa crisis

7:32 am on 27 August 2005

A rally in central Melbourne last night highlighted the fourth anniversary of the Tampa crisis.

Several hundred refugee supporters marched from the State Library of Victoria and stopped traffic briefly at Flinders Street Station.

Four years ago today the Norwegian merchantman Tampa rescued 4-hundred and 38 asylum seekers from a sinking Indonesian fishing boat, but after diverting from a nearby Indonesian port was prevented from landing them in Australia.

The incident set the tone of the 2001 election campaign and spawned the government's Pacific Solution policy, which saw asylum seekers housed on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and on Nauru to keep them out of Australia's migration zone.

Manus Island detention centre is now empty, and there are 32 asylum seekers on Nauru; it's not clear whether the last Tampa refugee has now moved on from there.