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Trading Misery, Tonight On Four Corners

NewsKevin Perry
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In September a boat carrying 72 asylum seekers sank in stormy waters off the coast of Indonesia. Most of the people onboard drowned, many of them children.

The majority of passengers came from Lebanon. They’d been persuaded to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars to go on a vessel they had been told was seaworthy and well equipped with food and safety equipment. They had been deceived.

Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson goes on the trail of the people smugglers who organised the boat. Travelling to the Middle East she meets the survivors and relatives of those who drowned in the waters off Java. She hears the promises made to them by the smugglers and sees the devastating impact on the communities in Lebanon. But that is not all she finds out.

She tracks down the smugglers responsible for the doomed vessel and discovers that Australia’s hardline policy on asylum seekers has spawned a new generation of criminals who will use any avenue to keep the trade in human beings going. Their new methods of sending people to Australia are a direct challenge to the authority of the Federal Government. 

TRADING MISERY, reported by Sarah Ferguson and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 18th November at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 19th November at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview ( and at