Tampa Incident

In August 2001, the Norwegian cargo vessel Tampa made Australian political history when it picked up 438 mostly Afghan refugees from a sinking Indonesian people-smuggling vessel, the KM Palapa 1, in the Indian Ocean, but was refused permission to land them on the nearby Australian territory of Christmas Island. Australian Prime Minister John Howard exploited the incident politically to make radical changes to the country's territorial boundaries to increase his popularity in the months prior to an important election campaign. The Tampa incident was a major landmark in legitimizing Howard's increasingly populist approach to policy making, and of his use of the popular media to broadcast nationally a “tough” stance on asylum seekers to the segmented audiences of talk radio and commercial television.

The Tampa's ...

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