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FactCheck: did 1200 refugees die at sea under Labor?

Kenny, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-5352-7549 and Davies, S. (2015) FactCheck: did 1200 refugees die at sea under Labor? The Conversation, 3 March 2015 .

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"The Rudd government’s dismantling of the Howard government’s successful border protection policies directly resulted in more than 51,000 illegal maritime arrivals, including more than 8400 children, while it has been estimated that at least 1200 people (including hundreds of children) perished at sea. - Senator George Brandis, statement tabling the The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention report, February 11, 2015."

An accurate picture of the number of refugees dying at sea is an important part of asylum seeker policy in Australia. Successive governments have argued that tougher policies such as boat turn-backs and offshore detention will “stop the boats” and thereby reduce the number of people drowning.

Several newspaper columnists have said that more than 1200 refugees died under Labor. That time period covers six years, from the swearing in of Kevin Rudd on December 3, 2007, to the swearing in of Tony Abbott on September 18, 2013.

So, how many refugees drowned under Labor? What does the data say?

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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