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Day 139 – Reports that Australian Navy fired warning shots at asylum seeker boat

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Labor is demanding answers about the reports that the Australian Navy has fired warning shots an asylum seeker boat in an effort to turn it back.

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It is reported that:

an Australian vessel “shot into the air” during the interception of a boat full of asylum seekers within sight of Christmas Island.

The asylum boat was reportedly then forced to return to Indonesia.

Chris Bowen, a Labor frontbencher, says Immigration Minister Scott Morrison must make a public statement on the claims.

“The Australian people deserve to know what’s going on here,” said minister Bowen, “and let me be very, very clear about this, there is absolutely no operational reason or imperative for the minister not to be providing these sorts of updates.”

Natalegawa describes lifeboat plan as a ‘slippery slope’

Indonesia’s foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, said Australian government actions, could potentially be making it an easier prospect for asylum seekers into making their move into Australian waters seeking asylum from Australia.

Dr Natalegawa was responding to the Federal Government’s admission that lifeboats have been bought – reportedly to send asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

“Developments of the type that has been reported in the media, namely the facilitation by way of boats, this is the kind of slippery slope that we have identified in the past,” he said.

“Where will this lead to?”

Dr Natalegawa has indicated that if Australia is actively helping asylum seekers get back to Indonesia, and that is worse.

‘It’s one thing to turn back the actual boats on which they have been traveling, but it is another issue entirely, when those seeking asylum are transferred onto another boat, provided by the Abbott government, thereby making it easier for those seeking asylum to make the journey in the direction they have been told to take by Australian politics; in that direction (back to Indonesia),’ he said.

Yesterday Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, would not confirm or deny reports the lifeboats would be used to send asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

“We’ve acquired them to be part of the range of measures that we have at play,” he told a media briefing yesterday. Clearly a lifeboat, it’s involved potentially in those on-water activities that we don’t discuss and so I’m not going to go further in that space.”

Morrison says confusion over tow backs ‘semantics’

Mr Morrison also defended towing boats back towards Indonesia, saying there has never been an intention to enter Indonesian waters.

“Previously, before the election, what had been said and the way tow back as a policy was explained and particularly to the Indonesian government and as it was characterised both in the media and by the previous government is that boats would be towed back into Indonesian waters or towed back to Indonesian ports,” he said.

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During the Australian electoral campaign, Indonesia rallied against the outrageous promises that Tony Abbott was making in relation to people seeking asylum from Australia. On the 13th of September, 2013, after Abbottism became, Mr Natelegawa said the Indonesian government rejected Australia becoming involved in “early detection” methods or violating Indonesia’s sovereignty.

The Key points from this article:

  • Indonesia rejects Coalition plan to buy potential asylum seeker boats from Indonesian fishermen
  • Indonesia also opposes Australia turning boats back and paying Indonesian informers
  • During election campaign Coalition said it could work through Indonesia’s concerns
  • Mr Abbott announced Operation Sovereign Borders in July, 2013, setting out a military-led response to fight people smuggling, led by a three-star commander. The response will also turn back asylum seeker boats when safe to do so, a policy not supported by Indonesia.

    Abbott pledged to buy back unseaworthy boats from Indonesian villagers as part of its regional action plan against people smuggling.

    The policy was slammed as “clumsy” and “crazy” by then immigration minister Tony Burke, and offensive by Indonesian international relations expert Professor Hikmahanto Juwana.

    “It will make Indonesia-Australia relations sour because, Indonesia will not readily accept what is proposed by Australia,” said Professor Juwana of the University of Indonesia (Aug, 2013).

    So, today we find that Kevin Rudds warning that Abbotts Immigration policies would lead to armed conflict on the seas with Indonesia is evermore imminent:

    Lateline Broadcast: 28/06/2013 by Reporter: Tom Iggulden

    Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has warned that with Tony Abbott’s policy of turning back the boats, that it could bring Australia into conflict with Indonesia should the coalition win government.

    And mocked as he may have been at the time by Bishop, Iggulden and Abbott, I think a bit of humble pie might be on Iggulden’s menu for today! As for Bishop and Abbott, well its been a bit like watching an episode of what I would call; ‘Self fulfilling prophesy’ with Bishop as the ‘antagonist’ and Abbott as her apologist.

    Transcript (Click this link to watch the interview and read the transcript):

    JULIE BISHOP, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: He’s trying to drag president Yudhoyono into his ugly war against Tony Abbott.

    TONY ABBOTT: I’m not being negative. I am simply being factual when I say that Kevin Rudd is the best friend the people smugglers have ever had.

    TOM IGGULDEN: And so in less than a week, we’ve gone from the gender wars to war with Indonesia. The Opposition’s probably right about one thing though – Kevin Rudd will stop at nothing to beat them, just ask Julia Gillard.

    Your right Tom, Rudds actions were unforgivable in relation to Julia Gillard, but Abbotts atrocious activities that saw him degenerate the woman, Julia Gillard, far outweighed infighting in a political party.

    Abbotts actions towards women in general, and Bishop certainly doesn’t count, have been atrocious. They have been undermining and subjugatory as his attitudes about women are made quite public whenever he is around what he deems to be a ‘good looker.’ So what, he has three daughters, that was a biological determination not an act that he had any control over. Having three daughters just means that he has three daughters, not that he values strength, courage and authority in a woman. He certainly does not like to be led by one.

    “I’ve started to think of him as our captain coach in a footy team. He’s out on the field playing as hard as the rest of us, he’s often the best on ground,” she said through starry eyes.

    “But it’s when the game is over, when we’re back in the change rooms when Tony’s real talents come to the fore because he supports us all, he unites us. He’s brought out the best in us over the past four years. He has been such a tremendous asset,” said Bishop.

    So today, Abbott and Bishops bitching about Rudd and his evaluation of what would occur with Indonesia should Abbott win government, is unfolding before us all. It would just take one of those ‘warning shots’ to be mistakenly let off at an Indonesian ship and before you know it, there would be humble pie all round.

    Labor demands answers on reports Navy fired warning shots at asylum seeker boat; Indonesia’s Marty Natalegawa says lifeboat plan a ‘slippery slope

    JMO

    JMO

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