Tony Abbott’s policy a failure as boats keep coming, says Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa
The turn-back of two groups of asylum seekers on Monday has put further strain on the Australia-Indonesia relationship after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa launched another stinging criticism of the Abbott government’s boats policy.
Senior correspondent with Independent Australia, Barry Everingham has been leaked translations of several telephone conversations recently intercepted by Australian intelligence agencies.
Everingham’s column – The Everingham files: The Indonesian interceptions – contains translations of phone calls made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the Indonesian Ambassador in Canberra, following revelations that exposed the activities of Australian intelligence in tracking phone conversations made by president and his wife, Ani Yudhoyono.
Referring to Scott Morrison, Australian Minister for Immigration, SBY is reported to have said: “I caught that idiot Morrison on Sky News holding a media conference but refusing to answer any questions from the media pack. I was hoping one of them might ask him what day it is and hear him say, “I don’t have that information in my folder”.”
Column in full with video covering protests in Indonesia against Australia.
PS: Should this Keogh Cartoons post have been dated 1st April?
As a background, here is how the ABC covered the initial revelations of spying:
Indonesia has recalled its ambassador and is reviewing all cooperation with the Australian government, over revelations Australia attempted to listen in to president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s phone calls.
Documents obtained by the ABC and Guardian Australia show that Australian intelligence attempted to listen in to Mr Yudhoyono’s telephone conversations on at least one occasion, and also targeted the phones of his wife, Ani Yudhoyono, and his inner circle.
Spies also tracked activity on Mr Yudhoyono’s mobile phone for 15 days in August 2009, the material – leaked by the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden – reveals…….
The Mc prefix has crept into modern vernacular to mean an imitation of the real thing. Australia’s pseudo ever-so-erudite Foreign Minister, Bob Carr alias Bob McCarr-McDonald, imposter as Immigration Minister and you know who, has weighed into the delicate asylum seeker debate with the claim that Australia is being duped by imposters – McRefugees – claiming that recent arrivals were not fleeing persecution at all but, rather, were economic migrants.
Fancy that! Refugees duping Australia. Fancy that! Our Foreign Minister duping Australia with hostility-breeding political opportunism based on McBigotry, which is electorally popular in McOz.
Ironic isn’t it? The ultimate McSymbol, Ronald McDonald more than any other single figure epitomises western culture – a clown with no heart … or brain!
Aptly dressed in his Ronald McDonald suit, Bob McCarr-McDonald appeared on Sydney’s 2GB for some McClarification. ”Just to clarify what I said,” he told Sydney radio, ”I said that, in recent boat arrivals, 100 per cent appeared to be economic refugees.”
2GB’s Chris Smith alluded to one of the problems with Carr’s argument: the fact that none of the 22,600 asylum seekers who have arrived since the government announced its ”no advantage” principle last August have been processed. Would it not be an idea to test his claims by actually processing these people, Smith suggested.
Carr had no answer.
* This piece was partly sourced from a recent column by Michael Gordon, The Age 6 July 2013: No advantage in allowing Carr to fan asylum flames
Predictably, the backlash has been severe from many quarters. Refugee advocate Julian Burnside told Fairfax Media that he thought ”Senator Carr is talking through his hat”. The Age heads this article by Jonathon Swan:
Foreign Minister ‘being a bigot’ over asylum seekers
Foreign Minister Bob Carr has been described as behaving like a ”bigot” by a leading human rights lawyer for portraying asylum seekers as economic opportunists.
Refugee advocate Julian Burnside told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that he thought ”Senator Carr is talking through his hat”.
”I think he’s just being a bigot . . . It sounds very much like dog whistle politics in order to make community attitudes harden against people who risk their lives to get here,” he said.
Mr Burnside pointed out that for the past 15 years, 90 per cent of asylum seekers who arrived by boat had turned out to be genuine refugees, and that since August last year no asylum claims had been processed. He said Senator Carr’s claims of a flood of economic migrants, therefore, had no statistical foundation.
”It’s disgraceful that the Minister of the Crown should let fly with ideas like that when he has absolutely no facts at all to support his view,” Mr Burnside said.
In an interview on ABC television on Tuesday night, Senator Carr repeated his argument that an overwhelming number of boat people, mainly from Iran, were faking their claims and coming to Australia to seek economic advantage.
”I think people who burn their passports and repeat what very often is a well-rehearsed story, really ought to be put on the defensive,” Senator Carr said.
”If you’ve got an argument for persecution, there’s no case for burning your passport. There’s no case for being rehearsed in a story of persecution so that everyone on a vessel tells the same story word for word.”
These new boat migrants, overwhelmingly from Iran, were coming to Australia to seek economic advantage, Senator Carr said. It was an ”assault on Australia’s territory”.
But Mr Burnside said he had seen no evidence that this trend was happening.
”Most of the people who come from Iran . . . have been unable to get papers,” he said. ”They’re not allowed to leave Iran and they leave illegally because they are enemies, typically, of the theocracy that runs the place. Those people leave Iran at great risk.”
”They can’t get papers because what happens in repressive states – and maybe Senator Carr hasn’t noticed this – is that the state does not allow its enemy to have papers.”
Mr Burnside said Australians should be reminded of the ”reality . . . that people risk their lives trying to get here”.
When asylum seekers arrive by boat without papers they should be detained as a precaution for health and security checks, Mr Burnside conceded. But if he was in charge of the system he would cap that detention at one month.
After that the government should release the asylum seekers into the community, let them work, and give them access to Centrelink and Medicare benefits.
Then, Mr Burnside argued, until their claims are processed the government should require that the asylum seekers live in specified rural and regional towns, taking their Centrelink money into these towns and be spent on rent, food and clothing.
Their money would be injected into these communities and create jobs, he said.