Technologies of Sovereignty 4f - Excising Australia


Technologies of Sovereignty: Excising Australia

[imagecaption] Based on the excision zone map, 2007. See map and associated article. [/imagecaption]


From 2001, the Australian government began excising areas of land and sea from the ‘migration zone’ in order to prevent people seeking asylum by boat from accessing the same rights and visa application process, including merit reviews, to which those who arrive by plane are entitled under the Migration Act 1958 (see graphic left).

Excision was not only a geographical, but a temporal strategy. It was retrospectively applied to boats that had already landed on Australian territory, as in the case of the Minasa Bone which arrived at Melville Island on November 3, 2003. The following day Melville Island was excised from the migration map, giving the government legal cover for towing the Minasa Bone back into Indonesian waters. The fourteen Kurdish asylum seekers aboard were refouled to Turkey.

‘They towed the boat away in the middle of the night. We felt sorry for them, poor things. They were asylum seekers weren’t they?’

‘We watch the news and read the paper. We’re not stupid people, we’re educated. We know what it means to be non-Australians. If that boat comes back, we’ll welcome them and give them food and water. You know why? Because we’re all one group — non-Australians.’

Indigenous Melville Islanders’ response to the excision of their land and their effective deterritorialisation after the arrival of the Minasa Bone



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