A revealing behind-the-scenes account of how Australia's asylum seeker policy moved from humanity to inhumanity.

ASYLUM BY BOAT Origins of Australia's Refugee Policy, an important just released book by Dr Claire Higgins, an historian and a senior research associate at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW (UNSW Press).

"In the late 1970s, 2000 Vietnamese arrived in Australia by boat, fleeing persecution.  Their arrival presented a challenge to politicians, but the way the Fraser government handled it, and the resettlement of tens of thousands more Indochinese refugees, marked a turning point in Australia's immigration history.  Turn-backs and detention were proposed, and rejected.  ...........................................

It's about how governments and policy-makers have dealt with the confluence of issues emerging from the end of the "White Australia" policy, a recognition of international responsibilities, and shifting public opinion.  Strikingly, it also shows the extent to which the attitudes and statements of politicians and policy-makers can shape the mood of the country, for better or worse.