The Subversive Architect | Speculation I.I

This post is carried on from The Subversive Architect | Speculation I in which I set up an outline for a short design study of the northern boundary of Australia.

The inversion of geographic boundaries by the Australian government post 2001 thickened the boundary to a complex territory, in which what was considered to be Australian territory differed for Australians and illegal migrants:

The migration zone in the Act is defined as ‘an area consisting of land that is part of the states and territories at mean low water, Australian resource installations and sea installations, sea within a port and piers or similar structures, but not including sea that is within the State or Territory limits but not within a port.’ The effect of these provisions is restricted to their operation within the Migration Act 1958 and only affects the rights of aliens arriving at excised offshore places. An alien arriving within the migration zone without a valid visa is designated as an unlawful non-citizen and must be detained. An alien arriving unlawfully at an excised offshore place is also an offshore entry person and is prevented from making a valid visa application and can be removed to a declared country.

from Excising Australia: Are we really shrinking?, Parliament of Australia, Notes, 2005

The excision laws were introduced to “strengthen Australia’s territorial integrity, reduce instances of persons entering Australia illegally by means of hazardous sea or air voyages and deter the activities of people smugglers.” according to Fact Sheet 81 – Australia’s Offshore Places, published by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

I wondered, naively, whether through excising the islands to the north, the Australian government may have increased the hazardousness of sea voyages through lengthening the distance that persons need to travel in order to make a claim for a visa on Australian territory [this is based on the assumption that this is the intention of the persons making these trips].

A list of the excised islands, and the dates of their excision may be found here, and I abstracted their locations for use in the maps below.

Location of Australian Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] and excised islands since 2001.

Melville Island was retrospectively excised when a small Indonesian fishing vessel carrying 14 refugees arrived on the 4 November 2003. source Other moves to excise further islands off the coast of Western Australia were also made. The strategy seems strange…

The ABC newspaper reports interceptions of vessels carrying illegal immigrants almost weekly. A quick study indicated that they had reported the interception of 14 vessels since mid November 2010, primarily in the regions surrounding Christmas Island and Ashmore Island. One of these was a tragic wreck in which 28 persons drowned when their boat was wrecked in Christmas Island’s Flying Fish Cove.

Locations of boat interceptions since November 2010 . information source ABC news

To procure greater safety of vessels as they travel between Indonesia and Australia, as well as to aid them in getting as close as they may to the Australian coastline I have speculated on the development of a buoy deployment strategy, in which Aid groups might deploy buoys equipped with monitoring devices, as well as flares, small emergency medical provisions, and shelter to regions that refugee vessels pass through frequently. The Jakarta Post produced an interesting map accompanied by the article ‘R-I a dumping ground for OZ’s unwanted immigrants’ which documents common routes by vessels that pass through the Indonesia region to reach Australia. This, along with the data on recent vessels exctracted from the ABC has been used to develop a region for buoy deployment.

The buoys have a lifespan of 2-4 weeks, and are able to float through the region until retrieval by a refugee vessel, as illustrated below.

Potential deployment sites for buoys

Deployment of buoy from aid aircraft within deployment region

Deployment of buoy from aid aircraft – approach to water

Retrieval of buoy containing aid by illegal migrant boat

Deployment and retrieval of small aid and supplies contained within buoy

Schematic – movement of buoy in ocean currents prior to collection by illegal migrant boat 2-4 weeks later

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