The government has stopped the boats. It is an undeniable, apolitical fact. They promised they would…by hook or by crook…and the have.
However, according to the ABC, the latest allegations from Indonesian police, suggest that six crew members were bribed with payments of up to $5,000 each to turn back. So it is now, quite conceivably possible, for people smugglers to make money from both the desperate refugees seeking a better, safer life, as well as from the Australian government, desperate to keep them from its shores.
The Australian public may have voted the Abbott government in on a mandate of stemming the [over] flow of incoming boats from the relaxed policy of Rudd/Gillard era, but one would suspect little support would be garnered for this new development.
It’s lower than low…certainly lower to the waterline than an overcrowded boat’s gunnels.
The allegations, if proven to be true, set a new benchmark for a government hell bent on protecting the borders at any cost…including the cost of paying off the facilitators of these evil trafficking rings to take their business elsewhere. In essence, taxpayers would be funding criminal activity, which international law Professor Don Rothwell from the Australian National University said “could be tantamount to people smuggling under current regional protocols”.
Under the Professor’s suggestions, Australia could go from being the intended destination to the smuggler, by way of it’s financial assistance.
The silence from the government on the questions being put to them, not only from Jakarta and the Opposition, but from a growing international cohort, is concerning at best, deafening at its worst. As reported in The New Daily, Mr Abbott refused to deny the reports yet noted the authorities has used “incredibly creative” means of stopping the boats.
The Prime Minister has stated that he will not apologise for stopping the boats and has to date hid behind the pretence that the government does not comment on operational issues.
Debate still rages on Australia’s humanitarian report card. How we are dealing with and processing those that have made it to our shores remains problematic. However, The Australian public has, on the whole, been quite supportive of the government’s efforts to stop the boats.
Most of us would agree that the diversity of Australia’s ethnicities underpins the cultural, social and economic variety that has made this country great. But most of us want immigrants to come to Australia through the proper and legal channels.
On this occasion though, if the allegations are proven to be true, I believe the Australian people will have a very real and very vocal disapproval of this latest policy. One has to ask the question, on whose watch was it decided that paying off criminals to take their business elsewhere, was a good idea? Would the same apply for drug smugglers and other criminals?
Does Australia want to become known as a nation who pays their way out of problems? The international fallout from this could be very damaging and exceptionally embarrassing to us all.
What do you think? Irrespective of your view on refugees and boat people, is this a step too far? Are you happy for your government to be stopping the boats in this way?