CONTROVERSIAL TACTICS: Detained asylum seekers at Tasikmalaya in western Java. The asylum seekers, heading for Christmas Island, were turned back by the Australian Navy, according to Indonesian authorities.
CONTROVERSIAL TACTICS: Detained asylum seekers at Tasikmalaya in western Java. The asylum seekers, heading for Christmas Island, were turned back by the Australian Navy, according to Indonesian authorities. Afp

'Naval captains put refugees lives before careers'

AUSTRALIAN naval captains who entered Indonesian waters had sacrificed their careers to ensure the refugees they had been ordered to put in lifeboats safely made shore, according to former officer Jeremy Davey.

Mr Davey, now the Palmer United Party candidate for the state seat of Kawana, said the story behind the breach of Indonesia's sovereign borders was that it was driven by the humane concern of naval captains not prepared to accept that people set adrift in lifeboats 12 kilometres from shore would be safe.

He said naval captains had been stripped of their right to make decisions by both sides of politics.

In Canberra to assist Senator Glenn Lazarus through a tough week in the Senate, Mr Davey spoke out after watching Tuesday night's ABC 7.30 report about the effect refugee policy was having on our servicemen and women.

Mr Davey recalled consoling a 19-year-old sailor immediately after her first boarding venture saw her retrieving decomposing bodies.

The former Kawana High School student knows dozens of former colleagues affected by Post Traumatic Shock Disorder.

"Some can't function at all,'' he said.

"It's not just those fleeing conflict to be concerned about. There also needs to be concern for servicemen and women. The navy is the forgotten victim in this."

Mr Davey said it was easy for people demanding tough action on boat people to have an opinion.

It was a different matter at sea, where sailors are supposed to respect all life, when who was rescued was being determined from a federal cabinet minister's office.

"I know the identity of some of those who appeared anonymously on the 7.30 report,'' he said.

"The humanity is taken out of it. The decisions are political and it happens so close to Australia's shores.

"You can be sitting having a cold beer in Broome and 24 hours later be dealing with mass deaths and making judgment calls about who you can rescue."



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