Indonesia is not meeting its obligations on boats


ASYLUM-SEEKING is a strategic policy issue with domestic ramifications, not vice versa. And it’s also just one facet of our complex strategic relations with our neighbours.

Recent Indonesian posturing that it is not the source of asylum-seeker flows, that it is Australia’s problem and that Indonesia is somehow not involved are examples of the perpetrator blaming the victim.

When an Indonesian boat, organised by Indonesia-based people-smugglers, leaves an Indonesian port contrary to Indonesian law through the corruption or incompetence of Indonesian officials, Indonesia cannot evade responsibility – especially where passengers entered Indonesia using false documents that Indonesian officials know to be false.

Moreover, while refusing to sign the UN Refugee Convention, and rarely held to account for it in the debate, Indonesia is a signatory to the protocol against people-smuggling.

It’s time Indonesia was held to account for not meeting its obligations under international law and its own law. It could, for example, turn the tap off at Jakarta airport.

Australian discussion of asylum-seeking is invalid if it does not address the part played by Indonesia’s serious derelictions of responsibility.


Neil James, Australia Defence Association, Canberra, ACT

HOW could Labor have let Kevin Rudd off the leash? What a stupid, undiplomatic statement he has made about conflict with Indonesia (“Rudd risks row with Indonesia”, 29-30/6).

He is supposed to be a diplomat, yet he starts his second term as PM by placing Indonesia in an incredibly difficult position.

This man is an out-of-control egocentric, a characteristic expressed by ministers earlier this year. What insanity led to the decision to unleash him again?

Terence Shanahan, Nedlands, WA

TO suggest that Tony Abbott would provoke a conflict with Indonesia on asylum-seekers would be laughable if not for its irresponsibility. Kevin Rudd prides himself on his grasp of regional affairs, yet he sends the message that if he is replaced by Abbott, there could be a risk of conflict.

His position exhibits breathtaking incompetence in one who purports to be a foreign policy expert. But why is he doing it? For domestic political gain. Rudd is irresponsible and puts self-aggrandisement above the good of the nation.


P. Reynolds, Gilmore, ACT

ON what grounds could Indonesia refuse the return of Indonesian vessels and Indonesian crew who have attempted to make unauthorised entries into Australian waters? I find it puzzling that this Labor government is willing to allow a foreign nation to control who we allow entry into our country.

If the shoe was on the other foot and Australian vessels were engaged in human trafficking, and Australia refused to take responsibility for them or accept their repatriation and then punish them accordingly, we would face extreme international criticism. Why does Indonesia get a free pass to engage in corrupt activity with no repercussions and still collect our aid?


Nichole Webb, Midland, WA

THE truth is, Indonesia is not going to stop people-smuggling. The money that people-smuggling generates finds its way to all levels of Indonesia’s government, police and military.

It is relatively easy to enter Indonesia and even easier to leave by boat. Where is Indonesia’s border security?


Lance Brady, Wilston, Qld

IF it’s in Indonesians interest to stop people passing through their country, surely a start would be with incoming airline passengers.

Indonesian ports must be awash with people trying to leave for Australia, so Indonesian authorities must be going round with blinkers on.






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