1st Edition

Australia’s Refugee Politics in the 21st Century STOP THE BOATS!

By Kim Huynh Copyright 2023
    112 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Boat arrivals have defined and divided 21st-century Australia. This book examines the ‘Stop the Boats’ era from between the 2013 and 2022 federal elections. During this time the dominant political view has been that to accept a single boat, family or person is to risk being overwhelmed by many others. It follows that government must do whatever it takes to command Australia’s borders and deter unauthorized arrivals; that is, Stop the Boats!

    This book sets out the key political events and arguments for and against Australia’s assurance that anyone who comes without permission will never be able to stay. It examines the impact of this commitment on regional and international relations, on those who seek refuge in Australia, and on those who call it ‘home’. This volume serves as a valuable political history and analysis for scholars, policymakers, students, journalists and anyone who is interested in questions of contemporary exclusion and belonging.

    List of illustrations, What if you had ended up face down in the sand?, Preface, Introduction: The Meaning of ‘Stop the Boats!’, 1. A New Border Era, 2. The Crises of 2015, 3. Manus Island and the Price of Deterrence, 4. Australia’s Absolute Borders, Conclusion: After Stop the Boats!, Postscript: We Have a Thing with Boats, Index


    Kim Huynh is a Vietnamese boatperson who came to Australia with his family in 1979. He has taught refugee politics and political philosophy at the Australian National University for over two decades. Kim has researched Australian and US politics, along with political theory and gender. He authored a commercially and academically successful book about his parents and the Vietnam War entitled Where the Sea Takes Us, as well as short stories and essays on art and culture. Kim is also an Australian Broadcasting Corporation presenter and producer and has run as an independent candidate in local and federal elections. In all these roles and activities, he has sought to advance diversity, democracy and understanding, while continuing to be a boatperson.

    "I came to Australia by boat in 2013 and was detained with hundreds of other children when Tony Abbott came to power promising to 'Stop the Boats!' Today, I am a father and call Australia 'home', even though the government has said I cannot stay. I have trusted Kim Huynh with my story and trust this book to help me better understand what I have been through."

    Ali, Rohingya Refugee, featured in ABC Radio Canberra’s Hailing Ali series

    "Why does Australia remain so divided on whether or not to stop the boats? Huynh makes a compelling case for the need to grapple with fundamental questions of sovereignty, identity, and gender if we are to break the cycles of violence playing out in Australia’s border policies. Huynh’s insight, honesty and eloquence mark him as one of our finest scholars, journalists, and writers."    

    Associate Professor Anne McNevin, Department of Politics, The New School for Social Research

    "Well-written and comprehensive, Stop the Boats! reminded me of many events and debates that took place during a long political saga that shows little sign of ending. Dr Huynh offers a framework to understand how border policies have developed and accounts for their shocking impact, not only on asylum seekers and refugees, but also on those who are 'safely' inside countries like Australia. Just as importantly, he offers a way out."

    ANU Emeritus Professor John Minns and Refugee Action Campaign Committee Member