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The Wild Unknown

This song was written for the compilation CD Reclaim Your Voice: Stopping the Punishment of Asylum Seekers. It was inspired on an ABC Foreign Correspondent editorial (‘The Luckiest Refugees’), and relates the story of the MG99, a boat load of refugees escaping the turmoil after the Vietnam war, who were rescued by the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.

In reading their powerful story, I was struck by how differently the Fraser government at the time treated refugees compared to the major political parties of today. Then they were refugees, now they are illegal boat arrivals. Then they were people needing our help, now they are a problem to be solved, whatever the human cost. Why have the words and actions of successive governments changed in only a generation to become so inhumane, so brutal?

This song was recorded with the assistance of the wonderful Liz Frencham, who played bass and sang harmonies on the track. Play the song by clicking the soundcloud link below, and after that – be sure to explore the other songs on the Blue Mountain Sound soundcloud page. Most importantly, buy a copy by contacting Andy Busuttil on facebook or by emailing andy@bluemountainsound.com.au.. All proceeds go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Words and Music by Ben Scott (c) 2014

In the early 1980s a group of refugees
Vessel cast adrift on the South China Sea
Fleeing post-war tyranny in the teeth of a storm
Overloaded, drinking water gone

They looked to one another in quiet despair
As ships passed by them as if they were not there
They fired a flare into the darkening sky
The vivid orange flash like a final goodbye

Chorus a:
Those brave free travellers of South Vietnam
Who sailed away from all they loved and owned
And preferred to face the wild unknown
Than the mortal threat from going home

And in the still that followed a distant hum
The drone of a plane flying somewhere near
They could not know to which side it belonged
Or whether they’d be saved or dragged back home

But then a giant ship loomed up to them
Flying the southern cross, sailing out to save them
The crew scaled down the vast steel side
The sick and weary souls, were rescued every one

Chorus a

The ship’s commander welcomed them on board
Said we’ll have you in Australia very soon
The liberal Malcolm Fraser, he agreed to take them in
With 40,000 others from the ruins of Vietnam

But if that boat had sailed out today
And foundered on the edge of our rum domain
They would not find the same simple respect
Instead a bloody storm of abuse and neglect

Chorus b:
For those brave free travellers from any troubled land
Who sail away from all they love and own
And prefer to face the wild unknown
Than the mortal threat from going home 


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