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With sometimes tragic results.

A boat carrying illegal immigrants exploded this morning as it was being escorted to Christmas Island by Australian naval ship HMAS Albany. It is not clear yet whether the boat was deliberately set on fire by the illegal immigrants, who had reportedly doused the small wooden boat with petrol.

Three are dead, two are missing, and most of the others on the boat at the time are injured, including four Australian navy personnel.

I’m not going to call these people asylum seekers – they are (apparently) from Afghanistan which means they have travelled half way round the world and through at least half a dozen countries to get to Australia. They are illegal immigrants, people who had enough money to try to push their way ahead of other refugees.

People who jump the queue take resources from those who don’t, because immigration, customs, naval and medical staff have to be diverted to take care of them.

There has been a substantial jump in people-smuggling into Australia over the last six months. Malcolm Turnbull says this is because the Federal Labor Government has quite consciously and deliberately given the impression that it is kinder and more accommodating than the former Liberal (conservative) government.

The end result is a government that feels virtuous, but causes more suffering for those who jump the queue and are still turned back. And because of the need to divert resources to process the queue jumpers, more delays and therefore more suffering for people who are in equal if not greater need, but do the right thing and go through proper refugee channels.

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