In June 2012, a boat heavily laden with asylum seekers sank in waters between Indonesia and Australia. While more than 100 lives were saved, as many as 90 were lost. It triggered an extraordinary week in federal politics – bringing a long-running impasse on asylum seeker policy to a head.

There was a passionate and very emotional debate on the floor of the house; backroom negotiations with the cross benches and minor parties; the House of Representatives and the Senate moving in different directions; and mounting pressure as parliament’s long winter break loomed. It ended with no change in policy and the Government handing former defence force chief Angus Houston the task of figuring out what to do next.

Stories broadcast on ABC's Lateline program, 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th June 2012

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