White Panic 5a - From the Kein Giang


From the Kein Giang to today

[imagecaption] Image from ‘The Boat‘ webcomic, SBS, 2015. Artist: Matt Huynh. [/imagecaption]

‘Welcome on my boat. My name is Lam Binh and these are my friends from South Vietnam and we would like permission to stay in Australia.’ 

Lam Binh


Since the first group of people seeking asylum, arrived by boat from Vietnam on the Kein Giang (KG 4435) on 26 April 1976, white panic has steadily increased. Carrying only five people – Lam Binh his brother Lam Tac Tam and three friends – the group ended up in Darwin Harbour in the ocean territories of the Larrakia people, despite little navigational experience or knowledge of Australia. Over the next five years, 2059 others arrived from Vietnam in similar circumstances and thousands more were resettled from refugee camps in neighbouring countries. 

The Kein Giang arrived in the years following the formal end of the White Australia policy. As Tuong Quang Luu notes however ‘The White Australia Policy had been abolished. The public opinion had not been turned around’. Available opinion polls from the time indicate that generally people opposed allowing those who had arrived without authorisation to resettle in Australia. Likewise in politics and in the media, now familiar rhetoric began to emerge that was designed to undermine asylum claims. Discussions of ‘genuine refugees’, ‘economic migrants’ and the need to enforce immigration laws created a dichotomy of those who were deserving or undeserving, which continues today. (Stevens, 2012).  



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