16 July 2003

Tuvalu seeks mass migration

KERRY O'BRIEN: The tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu is pleading for a large-scale exemption from Australia's tough immigration laws.

Tuvalu wants to move its entire population of about 12,000 to Australia to escape an increasingly precarious existence on the coral atolls it inhabits.

The islanders fear the combination of global warming and cyclones will swamp their low-lying homeland and, with strong connections to Australia, they want to come here.

And while the Federal Government has promised help in the event of a disaster, it's not throwing out any lifelines yet.

Tuvalu's previous claim to fame was when they sold their top level domain, .tv, to Rupert Murdoch. Now they are the first small island state to propose a dramtic policy on global warming. They believe they have to leave their islands.

I guess the people of Tuvalu take global warming seriously. They do not have much choice. Already, according to the report, one of their islands has been washed away by increased storm surges and cyclonic activity.

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