• Asylum policy secrecy leaves unanswered questions

    Date: 2019.01.16 | Category: 上海按摩服务 | Tags:

    (Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

    The Abbott government’s border protection policy is again raising more questions than answers, with reports that boats are being towed back to Indonesia, and conflicting reports about Indonesia’s response.


    Asylum seekers say in recent weeks, the Australian Navy attached ropes to two separate boats and towed them back to Indonesia.

    But as Thea Cowie reports, the Coalition is continuing to say very little about what’s been happening with asylum seeker boats and the use of the nation’s Navy, citing what it describes as ‘operational security reasons’.

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    Boat towbacks, boat turnbacks, agreements with Indonesia and Nauru’s decision to drastically increase visa fees for journalists.

    They’re all issues the Abbott government is refusing to speak about publicly.

    Prime Minister is defending the Coalition’s silence, speaking here on Macquarie Radio.

    “We don’t want to give rise to a whole lot of mischief-making and I’d rather be criticised for being a bit of a closed book on this issue and actually stop the boats and that’s the point. The point is, not to provide sport for public discussion. The point is to stop the boats and I’m pleased to say that it’s now several weeks since we’ve had a boat.”

    After turning boats back on at least two occasions late last year, reports indicate the Abbott government has started towing boats back too.

    A Somali man now in Indonesia’s West Timor province says he was on a boat towed back to Indonesia on the tenth of December.

    The man – identified only as Marke – has told the ABC of his experience.

    “Ah, put a rope. They put a rope. Then they said, ‘We are going to Australia, to Christmas Island.’ They told us a lie. When we reach, when we were nearby the island of Indonesia, they just start our machine. They fix one of our machines. They start our machine. They say, ‘Go. You can land over there. It’s about 15 kilometres.’ And then they seemed to run away and disappeared.”

    Marke also claims Navy personnel assaulted some of the asylum seekers during the tow-back exercise.

    Another asylum seeker, Yousif from Sudan, claims his boat was just short of Darwin when it broke down on New Year’s Day.

    He says during the four days it took for the boat to be towed back to Indonesia, asylum seekers were handcuffed, refused water, beaten with shoes, called names like “monkeys from Africa”, and children were refused medicine.

    Yousif speaking here to the ABC.

    “Some of our people, they jump on the water as a protest. Nine people. And then they take them aboard and then they beat them and they would, were hung on their hands. And anyhow, they used that by an inhuman way. We asked them, “Where do you take us?” They told us that they are taking us to the Christmas Island.”

    In a statement to SBS Radio, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says claims people fell overboard have been deemed false and Australian personnel conduct themselves professionally and responsibly.

    Another statement says the government does not confirm or comment on reports of tow-backs because people smugglers use official commentary to make assumptions which put people’s lives at risk.

    The government is also saying very little on Indonesian reports that the nation’s military commander has discussed boat turn-backs with Australian Defence Force chief David Hurley.

    The Jakarta Post quotes General Moeldoko as saying Australia’s turn-back policy is “justifiable” and both countries have agreed to the action.

    The military commander’s comments are at odds with comments from Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who says turn-backs are “not a solution”.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the relationship is in good shape.

    “There are enormous levels of exchange and understanding between Australia and Indonesia, as evidenced by the discussion that seems to have taken place between General Moeldoko and our own General Hurley not long ago. There’s a lot of co-operation and mutual understanding here.”

    Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young says the Prime Minister should be aware of conversations between the Australian and Indonesian military commanders.

    She says Mr Abbott’s choice of words is questionable.

    “I thought it was astonishing this morning to hear the Prime Minister say, ‘a seeming conversation, a conversation that seemed to have occurred.’ What is going on? Does the Prime Minister know what is happening out on the high seas or is he just being Phony Tony? Is this all about pulling the wool over the eyes of the Australian people, tricking them once more, trying to hide the truth and thumbing his nose at the same time at the Indonesian Government?”

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the Abbott Government is treating the Australian people and the media with a lack of respect.

    “The Immigration Minister, when he was in Opposition, you couldn’t open the door without tripping over him doing media interview. Now he’s in witness protection, they have cancelled the Friday briefings. It’s not enough to say these matters are ‘on water’ therefore the government can’t tell you what’s going on. The ‘Jakarta Post’ shouldn’t be the way in which Australian taxpayers find out what the Australian Abbott Government is doing in terms of hiding the boats and breaking election promises.”

    In another development, Nauru is set to charge an application fee of $8000 for any journalists who want a visa to visit the island to report on the Australian asylum seeker detention centre there.

    The visa application fee was previously $200.

    Nauru officials say journalists will be charged the $8000 fee, even if their application is rejected.