AUSTRALIA - Asylum Seekers: Aftermath of the Chritmas Island Tragedy On December 16, a boat carrying around 90 asylum seekers was swept onto jagged rocks off the coast of the Australian island of Christmas Island - some 300 km out of Indonesia. We may never know exactly how many people were on board but it’s estimated around 50 have died following the incident. The tragedy shocked Australians and pushed the thorny question of boatpeople back on the political agenda. PM Julia Gillard was swift to react, cutting short her holidays. The Opposition called for an overhaul of the government’s policy on asylum seekers and a return to tough measures implemented under John Howard to deter boat people from coming to Australia. (those measures were: no family reunion, and no permanent protection - only temporary visa, with the possibility of sending people back home if the situation in their home country had changed). Gillard ignored the Opposition’s attack, calling instead for the implementation of a regional Protection framework and the creation of a regional processing centre in East Timor.