We won’t help Abbott turn back boats: Indonesia

June 01, 2013

Indonesia has said in its clearest terms yet that it would not work with a future Abbott government on the Coalition’s vow to turn back asylum-seeker boats.

The country’s ambassador to Australia, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, said in Canberra on Friday that, as a transit country, Indonesia was also ”a victim of the situation” and would probably not collaborate with the Coalition on such an approach.

”So I think it’s not possible for the Coalition to say that it [the flow of boats] has to go … back to Indonesia, because Indonesia is not the origin country of these people,” he said.

”We don’t know the situation ahead of us right now but I think … no such collaboration will happen between Indonesia and Australia … I don’t think that it will happen.”

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has steadfastly maintained that a key plank of his asylum-seeker policy would be to have the navy turn back boats when it is safe to do so.

Present and former navy officers have warned that such an approach could be dangerous because asylum seekers might try to scuttle the boats on which they were travelling. And Indonesian officials have also consistently taken a dim view of the proposal.

The number of asylum seekers arriving by boat has risen steeply in recent years. Since January 1, about 154 boats have arrived in Australian waters carrying 10,542 people.

Mr Kesoema said Mr Abbott would be welcome in Jakarta but that he did not think the issue of turning back boats would ever be discussed.

”I don’t think this issue will be asked by Mr Abbott,” he said. ”We never talked about it. It’s never been discussed.”

Shadow foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop rejected Mr Kesoema’s suggestions that the issue had not been discussed with the Indonesians.

”We have held wide-ranging discussions at the highest levels in Jakarta and in Australia and I’m confident that, if we’re elected, we will be able to work constructively with the Indonesian government on the issue of people smuggling,” she said.

In an interview with Sky News last month, Mr Abbott acknowledged the policy could be dangerous but insisted that ”letting the boats come is pretty dangerous, too – very, very dangerous to boat people”.

Seven boats were turned back during the Howard era, although this was with the consent of Indonesia.

In the same interview, Mr Abbott suggested he might not need Indonesia’s consent to turn back boats. Most asylum-seeker boats were Indonesian-crewed and Indonesian-flagged, and therefore if they returned to an Indonesian port, that would be ”just the ordinary course of business”, he said.

Ms Bishop repeated this point on Friday. Asked whether the Coalition would go ahead and turn back boats even without a deal with the Indonesians, Ms Bishop said: ”That’s not a scenario that I’m going to discuss because I believe we will be able to work constructively with the government of Indonesia.”

Mr Kesoema was speaking after an address he gave to the University of Canberra’s National Security Institute.
Source: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/we-wont-help-abbott-turn-back-boats-indonesia-20130531-2nhgx.html#ixzz2Ux8irlAQ

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3 Comments

Filed under Asylum Policy, Australian Government and Opposition

3 responses to “We won’t help Abbott turn back boats: Indonesia

  1. Louise Dingle Refugee advocate and counsellor.

    It is illegal under Maritime Law to turn around fatigued or underage crew. ALL refugees are suffering fatigue and exhaustion. 90% fleeing genocide or persecution. They are traumatised and many under extreme duress upon interception. (source, UN and DIAC.) Turning boats is unlawful and dangerous. It poses a threat to all vessels in the area, the occupants of the boat and it’s crew. It is against the advice of former Navy officials. It causes post traumatic stress in our military. It is not in keeping with International standards of rescue response. Many asylum seekers use satellite calls as they fear the boat will break up before a sometimes lengthy rescue happens. SOLAS Safety of Life At Sea is about the occupants of the boat being saved, not patching a hull so the boat can be used again. As it is unlawful to turn boats it might be viewed as a false election promise.

  2. Mo

    The people on boats call for maritime pick up often very soon after they leave Indonesia. It will cost 70,000 dollars per person next year for each illegal immigrant. The Govt. can turn back the boats and it will have to happen sometime. Might as well start soon as there will always be people in the world seeking a better standard of living and if you think about it there is a limit to the taxpayers pocket. Also a limit to how many people we can accommodate before our way of life is destroyed. People will not want to come then I suppose! Maybe time for people to stay home and do something about their own place!

  3. Anna

    Of course Refugee Advocates like Louise Dingle et al have zero interest in this ‘gravy train’ stopping anytime soon, as they have a certain vested interest in the current state of affairs continuing as they, along with the human rights lawyers who swamp our legal system in challenging adverse assessments, derive a very handsome income from the people smuggler / asylum seeker (economic refugee, country shoppers) industry; courtesy of the Australian taxpayer! Cost to date, in excess of $8 Billion over some 5 years !!! Labor’s Rudd / Gillard governments, and these naive, delusional vested interest bleeding hearts have set this country on a course that will have massive adverse security, economic, societal and cultural ramifications for future generations that will possibly never be undone. The mass immigration of muslims and all the socioeconomic problems that it has created in the U.K. and Western Europe is what we here in Australia will have to contend with if this insidious people smuggling trade continues. Fact: A majority of Australian citizens will vote the current Gillard Labor government out of office on or before 14 September 2013 based on the current government’s gross mismanagement of the asylum seeker boat arrivals (40,000+) and our broken border security and protection issues.

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