A few weeks back we learned of a boatload of 65 asylum seekers who had been “sent back” to Indonesia and had gone ashore of a reef in the vicinity of Rote Island.
Standard procedure. Standard outrage. Standard Governmental “No Comment”
Even worse, Standard transferal of outrage to other outrageous actions by this increasingly erratic Government.
Then, several days ago a story broke in Indonesia.
A policeman claimed that Australian Border Protection Officials had paid $30,000 to the crew of that vessel to take those 65 asylum seekers back to Indonesia. He showed black plastic packages each containing $5,000. Presumably Australian dollars.
The Guardian reported, “We are currently investigating this. If this is true, it is very concerning,” an Indonesian foreign affairs ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, told the Guardian on Thursday, adding that the information was based on initial interviews with migrants on the boat and one crew member.Nasir said Indonesia would consider further action if the claim was proven true, including lodging a protest note with Australia or summoning its diplomats in Jakarta. The captain and five crew of the boat, which was carrying migrants from Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka, told local Indonesian police they were each paid US$5,000 to turn back to Indonesia, Agence France-Presse reported. Rote’s police chief, Hidayat, who goes by one name, was quoted by Fairfax as saying the cash “was in $100 bank notes” and wrapped in six black plastic bags. “I saw the money with my own eyes. This is the first time I’d heard Australian authorities making payments to boat crew.””
The Minister for Border Protection, in his sanest Brussells Sprouts way, would say nothing about “on water matters”. The Guardian reported that Dutton “said on Thursday the claims had not been substantiated. But he did not provide more details, saying the government has a policy of not commenting on operational matters. “There’s obviously, particularly in relation to this venture, there’s still discussions of an operational matter, of an operational nature going on, so we don’t comment in relation to any of these,” Dutton said in an interview with 2GB radio. “I think it’s fair to say that Indonesian police officers sort of recanted a bit from some of those comments in the last 24 hours or so, but the customs border protection officers do an amazing job. They do it in difficult circumstances at sea and our objective is to try and make sure we can stop these boats, but in relation to operational matters we just don’t comment.”
Dutton’s remarks were his most expansive on the matter.
The minister simply answered “no” when asked at a media conference on Tuesday whether officials had “recently” paid the crew and captain of a boat carrying asylum seekers. When asked the broader follow-up question – “Has Australia ever done that?” – Dutton said: “It’s been a longstanding policy of the government not to comment on on-water matters.”
Then this morning our Prime Minister “Refuses to deny reports Australian officials have paid asylum boat crews. . . . By hook or by crook we are going to stop the trade. I am proud of the work our border protection agencies have done, I really am proud of the work that they’ve done and they’ve been incredibly creative in coming up with a whole range of strategies to break this evil trade. We will do whatever is reasonably necessary to protect our country from people smuggling and from the effect of this evil and damaging trade.”
Mr Abbott would not go into further details about the allegation, saying the Government does not comment on operational matters, and the work of security agencies should not be discussed publicly. He also sidestepped questions about whether it is acceptable to pay people smugglers, and whether there should be an investigation.
That is as close as he can come to saying, “Yes, we are now criminal people smugglers, what are you going to do about it?” without actually saying it.
So now we have a Prime Minister who has admitted by mis-direction that his Government is engaging in criminal activities. Paying people smugglers to smuggle people back into Indonesia.
Our illegal dual-citizen Prime Minister, holding his seat through illegal means, is stretching his illegal activities to other fields, or seas.
Who are the People Smugglers?
Thanks to the actions of our Government, WE ARE!
I do wonder if this will prove an unnecessary speed-hump on his road to a snap election in August of this year.
In around nine weeks time. But that will be a whole different story.