SIEV X was an Indonesian fishing vessel sailing from Sumatra to Christmas Island carrying 400 asylum seekers. It sank on 19 October 2001 just south of Java killing 353 people.
A ‘temporary’ memorial to these 353 deaths was erected at Weston Park in Canberra. It was opened on 15 September 2006 by then Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope. The permanent memorial was dedicated in October 2007. Steve Biddulph, a vocal opponent of John Howard’s boat people policy, was the main proponent of the monument, which was supported by the Uniting Church of Australia. It was designed by Mitchell Donaldson.
Tony Abbott should dedicate a new memorial, or perhaps extend the present memorial, to remember the 1000s of people who have drowned en route to Australia over the past six years. The Prime Minister should invite the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Greens to join him in the solemn dedication. The present monument could be extended with more than 1000 white poles which local schools, churches and community groups could be invited to decorate. In recognition of his previous work, the Prime Minister should invite Steve Biddulph, Mitchell Donaldson and members of the Uniting Church to the dedication.