By hook or by crook – The #CashForTurnbacks scandal: @Qldaah #auspol

David Marler

David Marler

Queensland reporter at No Fibs
David is a full time carer for his son and in quiet times contributes to NoFibs. More at: http://nofibs.com.au/meeting-david-marler-nofibs-twitter-activist-by-griffithelects
David Marler
- 12 mins ago
David Marler
http://nofibs.com.au/meeting-david-marler-nofibs-twitter-activist-by-griffithelects

Live blog of the media reports on the “cash for turnbacks” crisis. Check back regularly for updates.

 By Hook Or By Crook - The #CashForTurnbacks scandal.

Introduction.
(February 5, 2016) – Senate inquiry, Canberra.
(December 2, 2015) – Court proceedings, Indonesia.
(November 8, 2015) – Government operates within the law.
(November 5, 2015) – People smugglers go on trial.
(October 30, 2015) – Amnesty’s ‘ideological attack’.
(October 29, 2015) – Amnesty concludes transnational crime.
(August 6, 2015) – Saving lives.
(July 20, 2015)  – AFP essential priority.
(June 24, 2015)  – Senate inquiry to launch.
(June 20, 2015)  – Counter allegations.
(June 19, 2015)  – Justifying paying people smugglers.
(June 18, 2015)  – International waters intercept.
(June 17, 2015)  – Show us the Benjamins.
(June 16, 2015) – Stop the bribes.
(June 15, 2015) – Conspiracy theories.
(June 14, 2015) – Still stopping the boats.
(June 13, 2015) – Indonesia demands answers.
(June 12, 2015) – By hook or by crook.
(June 11, 2015) – AFP to investigate.
(June 10, 2015) – Immigration Minister denies payments.
(June 8, 2015) – Cash for turnbacks.
(June 3, 2015) – Australian Navy turns back boat.
(June 2, 2015) – Shipwreck off Rote Island confirmed.
(June 1, 2015) – First media reports.
(May 2, 2015) – Report of a boat.

Introduction

This blog is to collate the media reports surrounding the wrecking of two asylum seekers boats on a reef off Rote Island, Indonesia.

A boat having been engaged by Border Protection was reported on May 2, 2015 by The West Australian. Claims emerged weeks later that the people smuggler crew had been stopped by Australia officials and paid cash to take their human cargo back to Indonesia in two new boats on  May 26, 2015.  The first media reports of the shipwreck began to emerge from June, 1, 2015.

Initially, the Australia Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop denied cash was paid. However, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to confirm or deny the event had taken place citing “operational matters”. It was a surprising revelation as up until this point the Abbott Government had refused to comment on operations at sea involving asylum seeker boats. It appeared two ministers had broken that policy.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key later confirmed that the original boat’s destination was his country. Reports also surfaced that the boat was in international waters when stopped by Australia.

As per Australian Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995, Division 73, people smuggling is illegal and carries a  penalty of gaol or 1,000 penalty units or both. However, proceedings against a perpetrator cannot commence without the Attorney-General’s consent.

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(February 5, 2016) – Senate inquiry, Canberra

The inquiry called for on June 24, 2015, begins

Major General Andrew Bottrell pleads public interest immunity to avoid questions from Senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Katy Gallagher.

Major General Andrew Bottrell pleads public interest immunity to avoid questions from Senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Katy Gallagher.

  • Ben Doherty reported, “The operational commander of Australian Border Force will face questions from the Senate on Friday on whether the Australian government paid Indonesian people smugglers more than $30,000 to turn their boat around.”: Border Force head to face questions on alleged payment to people smugglers.
  • Nicole Hasham reported, “The boat was stocked with provisions and the crew was skilled. When Australian officials boarded, the vessel was not in distress, and had not asked for help. Authorities mistreated the passengers, then handed over $US32,000 ($A44,500) to make the problem go away. Or perhaps the boat was in desperate straits and called for help. The weather was rough and forecast to worsen; without help, the occupants may have died. Australian officials boarded and kept everyone safe. Money may or may not have changed hands. These are two conflicting accounts by asylum seekers and the government of what occurred on the high seas in May last year, when passengers and Indonesian police claim Australian officials bribed the crew of a boat of asylum seekers to return to Indonesia.”: Conflicting stories at cash-for-turnbacks inquiry.

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(December 2, 2015) – Court proceedings, Indonesia

Trial of Captain Yohanis Humiang

  • Guardian Australia reported, “The captain of an asylum-seeker boat allegedly intercepted by the Australian navy has told a court how he negotiated a hefty payment to take the migrants back to Indonesia to avoid going home “empty-handed”. The Indonesian captain, Yohanis Humiang, 35, is on trial charged with people-smuggling after Australian officials allegedly stopped his boat in May and paid him and his crew US$32,000 to return to Indonesia.”: Indonesian captain makes US$32,000 deal to return asylum seekers, court hears.

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(November 8, 2015) – Government operates within the law

‘We’ve done what it takes to stop the boats’

Peter Dutton tells ABC Insiders' Barry Cassidy that the government has done what it takes to stop the boats.

Peter Dutton tells ABC Insiders’ Barry Cassidy that the government has done what it takes to stop the boats.

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(November 5, 2015) – People smugglers go on trial

Alleged payments will not be evidence

  • Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa reported, “Rote Island: More than $US30,000 ($42,000) allegedly paid to people smugglers by Australian officials to return their boat to Indonesia will not be presented as evidence in the men’s trial. An Indonesian police investigation in June found six crew members had been paid between $US5000 and $US6000 to turn back 65 asylum seekers headed for New Zealand. The prosecution had wanted to present “alleged bribery money from the Australian government” in court as further evidence of people-smuggling, but Prosecutor Alexander Sele said the police had insisted the crew had not committed a crime when they accepted the payments from the Australian officials.”: People smuggler cash scandal: Alleged payments will not be evidence in trial.

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(October 30, 2015) – Amnesty’s ‘ideological attack’

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton claims Amnesty bullying government

  • James Massola and Latika Bourke reported, “Liberal elder Philip Ruddock has distanced himself from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s attack on Amnesty International, saying he has “a lot of time” for the human rights organisation. Mr Ruddock is the longest-serving MP in Parliament and a long-time supporter of Amnesty, despite being at odds with it during his own stint as immigration minister in the Howard government and at one point being asked to stop wearing his Amnesty lapel badge.”: Peter Dutton’s attack on Amnesty International draws fire from his own side.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton claims Amnesty has launched an 'ideological attack' on the Australian Government.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton claims Amnesty has launched an ‘ideological attack’ on the Australian Government.

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(October 29, 2015) – Amnesty concludes transnational crime

Amnesty reports

  • Amnesty Australia reported, “On 5 May 2015, a boat departed Pelabuhan Ratu in Indonesia, with the aim of reaching New Zealand. On board were six crew and 65 passengers. The passengers, who were from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, included 58 men, four women (one of whom was pregnant), two seven-year-old children, and a one-year-old child. All of the adult passengers described themselves as asylum-seekers. They had paid unnamed private individuals an
    average of 4,000 USD for the voyage. “: By Hook or By Crook.
  • Amnesty Australia reported, “Our new report, By Hook or By Crook: Australia’s Abuse of Asylum Seekers at Sea, reveals damning evidence of Australian officials paying boat crews to return people seeking asylum to Indonesia and abusive treatment of the women, men and children on board.”: Report: Evidence of public officials’ involvement in criminal activity.
  • Amnesty Australia wrote, “Far from saving lives and stopping people smuggling, we have strong evidence that Operation Sovereign Borders officials have endangered and abused people seeking asylum and illegally paid for people smuggling.”: Demand a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.

Government denies engaging in people smuggling

  • Michelle Grattan wrote, “An Amnesty International investigation has found Australian officials may have paid money to the crew of a boat intercepted in July – which would be the second such alleged incident. The claim of a possible second payment comes as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the pregnant Somali woman known as Abyan, who sought an abortion after she was allegedly raped on Nauru, is being brought to Australia a second time. As publicity centres on Nauru, its government has lashed out at the Australian media, accusing it of “an air of racial superiority”.”: Amnesty alleges criminal activity in border control.
  • Shalailah Medhora reported, “The federal government will not be “bullied” into watering down its hardline border protection policies by advocates such as Amnesty International, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said, after the human rights group criticised border force staff for paying people smugglers to turn asylum boats around.”: Coalition will not be ‘bullied’ on border protection, says Peter Dutton.”: Coalition will not be ‘bullied’ on border protection, says Peter Dutton.
  • Karen Barlow reported, “Canberra — A new report by Amnesty International has accused Australian border officials of improperly detaining and roughly handling asylum seekers, while alleging intelligence officials may have been involved in transnational crime by allegedly paying off people smugglers. The report “By Hook or by Crook- Australia’s Abuse of Asylum Seekers at Sea”, released overnight, further investigates allegations raised in June this year that, in May, Australian officials paid the crew of an asylum seeker boat more than US$30,000 to take it back to Indonesia.”: Amnesty report: New claims of asylum seeker ‘ill-treatment’.
  • Ben Doherty reported, “Australian government officials may have engaged in people smuggling, by allegedly paying the crew of an asylum seeker boat to return its passengers to Indonesia, an Amnesty International investigation has found. In May this year, the 65 passengers and six crew of an asylum seeker boat bound for New Zealand said they were intercepted by an Australian naval ship and an Australian Border Force vessel in international waters.”: Australian officials paid asylum seeker boat crew, Amnesty investigation alleges.
  • Mark Rivett-Carnac reported, “The Australian government broke international law by paying people smugglers thousands of dollars to tow boats filled with asylum seekers away from its shores, according to new report by Amnesty International. The human-rights group investigated incidents from May and July when migrant boats were turned away from Australia and returned to Indonesia. In both occasions, Amnesty claims asylum seekers’ lives were endangered.”: Australia paid people smugglers to tow away migrant boats, finds Amnesty investigation.
ABC News: FM Julie Bishop & Peter Dutton reject Amnesty claim of transnational crime.

ABC News: FM Julie Bishop & Peter Dutton reject Amnesty claim of transnational crime.

New Zealand pressed to confirm no involvement

  • Otago Daily Times reported, “Evidence strongly suggests that Australian officials paid people smugglers who were heading for New Zealand in a boat with asylum seekers to turn back to Indonesia, Amnesty International says. Labour today called on Prime Minister John Key to confirm that New Zealand had no knowledge of the payments, or was in any way involved, while the Greens want him to rule out supporting Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. “: PM pressed over people smuggling claim.

Indonesia calls for end of push-back policy

  • Jewel TopsfieldKaruni Rompies, Amilia Rosa and Jane Lee reported, “Jakarta: A member of President Joko Widodo’s ruling party has called on the Indonesian government to “send a strong protest” after a report found Australian officials paid people smugglers to return to Indonesia. Charles Honoris​, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives, also renewed calls for Australia to abandon its controversial boat push-back policy and said he hoped the Australian government would be more transparent under the new Prime Minister.”: People-smuggler cash scandal: Indonesian MP calls for Australia to abandon push-back policy.

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(August 6, 2015) – Saving lives

Saved by cash

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(July 20, 2015)  – AFP essential priority

Offence under Australian law

New boat arrives off Dampier, Western Australia

  • Calla Wahlquist reported, “A small boat believed to be carrying asylum seekers has been spotted near the coast of Western Australia. The boat was sighted around dawn on Monday by the crew of an oil tanker near Dampier on the Pilbara coast, about 1,500km north of Perth. The tanker was monitoring an oil rig operated by engineering company Modec on the north-west shelf, about 78 nautical miles, or 145km, from the coast. Gary Kennedy, Modec’s operations manager in Australia, told Guardian Australia that the crew of the tanker noticed the small boat when it went inside the 500 metre exclusion zone around the oil rig.”: Suspected asylum seeker boat spotted near the coast of Western Australia.
ABC News: A new asylum seeker boat arrives off Dampier, Western Australia.

ABC News: A new asylum seeker boat arrives off Dampier, Western Australia.

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(June 24, 2015)  – Senate inquiry to launch

Breaking the Lombok agreement

  • Jewel TopsfieldKaruni Rompies and Sarah Whyte reported, “The Australian Senate will launch an inquiry into the alleged payments to people smugglers after the Abbott government refused to hand over documents into the claims, citing “public interest immunity”. The inquiry, supported by Labor, will require the government to declare whether any Australian official paid money to anyone on board a vessel from September 2013. If the allegations are true, it will also demand information on who authorised the payments and whether they were legal under both domestic and international law. The vote comes as Indonesia accused Australia of breaching an agreement on defence, intelligence and border security if it paid people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesia.”: Senate to launch inquiry into people smuggler payment claims.
  • Radio New Zealand reported, “The Senate has voted to establish a parliamentary inquiry into payments made by Australian government officials to boat crew members and people traffickers. The inquiry was moved by the Greens after the Australian government refused to comply with an Order to Produce Documents and will report back to the Senate in September.”: Australian govt faces inquiry into “bribe” payments.

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(June 20, 2015)  – Counter allegations

Labor calls for full story

  • Guardian Australia reported, “Labor says the government must come clean on payments to people smugglers to restore relations with Indonesia. Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministry claims to have evidence Australian officials paid $30,000 to five crew members to turn their boat around, but says it is yet to receive any clarification about this. The opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said the prime minister, Tony Abbott, owed a full explanation to Indonesia and the Australian people.”: Labor says Abbott must address people smuggler pay claim to placate Indonesia.

Tony Abbott declares boats stopped

  • Adam Gartrell reported, “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come closer than ever to admitting his government paid people smugglers to take boats back to Indonesia. Mr Abbott has steadfastly refused to comment on the allegations that first surfaced in Fairfax Media reports a fortnight ago, citing “operational” concerns. But in a speech to the NSW Liberal Party faithful in Sydney on Saturday, Mr Abbott attacked Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s handling of the allegations – and in the process, came perilously close to admitting they were true. “On Monday, Mr Shorten attacked us for allegedly doing something to turn around boats, which it turned out that he had done exactly the same,” Mr Abbott said. “Only it didn’t work when they tried to do it. Because they never turned around a single boat.””: Tony Abbott comes close to admitting people smuggler payments.
Tony Abbott claims the boats have stopped while Indonesia claims illicit payments were made to people smugglers by Australia.

Tony Abbott claims the boats have stopped while Indonesia claims illicit payments were made to people smugglers by Australia.

Bribery claims all round

Comment – Paul Bongiorno

  • Paul Bongiorno wrote, “No one could put it better as a description of the Abbott government’s way of doing business. “By hook or by crook” was the phrase the prime minister came back to three times in a radio interview. He was referring to “stopping the boats” but you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to pick the MO of this perpetrator at other crime scenes.”: Tony Abbott baits hooks and pays crooks.

Refugee policies trash reputation

Claims Indonesian officials paid to let boat leave

  • Greg Sheridan reported, “People-smugglers bribed Indon­esian police to allow the departure of the asylum-seeker boat that has provoked a diplomatic storm since it was intercepted at sea by Australian Customs and the navy late last month, according to sources.”: Boat bribery row escalates.
  • Greg Sheridan wrote, “Local Indonesian police were bribed by people-smugglers to allow a boat with 65 asylum-seekers on board, which is at the centre of controversy between Canberra and Jakarta, to leave Indonesia. “: Critics miss the boat on people smuggling debate.
The Australian - Boat Bribery Row Escalates - June 20, 2015.

The Australian – Boat Bribery Row Escalates – June 20, 2015.

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(June 19, 2015) – Justifying paying people smugglers

Diplomacy fails

Responsibility and legalities

  • Simon Longstaff wrote, “The federal government has neither confirmed nor denied allegations that persons, acting under the authority of the Australian government, have paid people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesia – effectively adding these smugglers to the national payroll of people working to ensure that Australia’s borders are not breached.”: Can we justify paying people smugglers to go back to Indonesia?
  • Asian Correspondent reported, “Two migrants who were on a people-smuggling boat at the center of claims Australia’s navy paid the crew to turn back to Indonesia say they saw the money handed over. The allegation of payments to people smugglers has strained relations between Indonesia and Australia, which has a policy of turning back any migrants who arrive by boat.””: Migrants say they saw Australian navy pay off people smugglers.
3AW: Scott Morrison knows what happened and that it was legal.

3AW: Scott Morrison knows what happened and that it was legal.

Path of vessels

Cartoons

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(June 18, 2015)  – International waters intercept

Fishermen would take up people smuggler trade

Alex Hart reported: Indonesian fishermen would take up the people smuggling trade.

Alex Hart reported: Indonesian fishermen would take up the people smuggling trade.

Trouble in relations

  •  Abdul Khalik and Andreyka Natalegawa reported, “Sydney/Jakarta. The future of Indonesian-Australian relations have plunged in to a labyrinth of uncertainty as allegations of Australian misconduct in handling asylum seekers prompts international relations experts to call for new methods of engagement between the neighboring countries.”: A bridge over troubled water between Indonesia and Australia.

No cash for turnbacks under Julia Gillard

  • Latika Bourke reported, “Former prime minister Julia Gillard says Labor never turned back asylum seeker boats but “absolutely” worked to prevent people smuggling when asked if her government ever paid boat crew. In the face of tough questioning on the BBC’s Hardtalk program in London overnight, Ms Gillard refused to directly answer questions about whether cash had ever been paid, possibly for intelligence under her government.”: Julia Gillard denies paying to turn back boats.
  • Shalailah Medhora reported, “Former prime minister Julia Gillard says no boats carrying asylum seekers were paid to turn back while she was in power, weighing in on claims that payments were made to people smugglers. “We didn’t have the policy of turning the boats around, so no, Labor did not operate the policy it is now asserted,” she told BBC’s Hardtalk program. But she admitted that her government had engaged in so-called “disruption activity” to stop people smugglers leaving Indonesia.”: Julia Gillard: no asylum-seeker boats were paid to turn back when I was PM.
Julia Gillard on BBC Hardtalk: We didn't pay smugglers to turn boats away.

Julia Gillard on BBC Hardtalk: We didn’t pay smugglers to turn boats away.

How Australia engaged the boat

  • George Roberts and Matthew Doran reported, “Asylum seekers from a boat whose crew was allegedly paid thousands of dollars by Australian authorities to return to Indonesia have questioned why they were intercepted in international waters. The claims came as the ABC obtained images showing the moment Australian authorities intercepted the boat. Two asylum seekers from the boat, who were able to speak a mixture of English and Bahasa Indonesia, say their global positioning system (GPS) showed they were in international waters when they were intercepted and turned around by Australian Customs and the Navy.”: Asylum seekers on boat at centre of turn-back payment allegations ask why they were intercepted in international waters.
Asylum seekers abandon the "Jasmine".

Asylum seekers abandon the “Jasmine”.

Cartoons

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(June 17, 2015)  – Show us the Benjamins

Europe concerned

  • Sarah Whyte and  David Wroe reported, “European countries in the midst of a growing asylum seeker crisis have been “surprised” and “concerned” at the allegation that the Australian government has paid people smugglers, a senior diplomatic source has said. The comment comes as the Greens prepare to move a parliamentary inquiry into the people smuggling claims on Thursday after the Abbott government refused to produce documents on the allegations, citing public immunity.”: European countries say they are ‘concerned’ and ‘surprised’ at payment allegations.

Documents refused

No regrets Julie Bishop

Asked if she regretted denying cash for turnbacks, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop answered, "I don't do regrets".

Asked if she regretted denying cash for turnbacks, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop answered, “I don’t do regrets”.

Simmering tensions

Second supplied vessel ran out of fuel

Indonesian Police: Suspected Australian Supplied Vessel "Kanak".

Indonesian Police: Suspected Australian Supplied Vessel “Kanak”.

Indonesian Police: Suspected Australian Supplied Vessel "Jasmine".

Indonesian Police: Suspected Australian Supplied Vessel “Jasmine”.

Australian – Indonesian relationship breaking down

Indonesia expert Professor Greg Barton tells News Breakfast allegations of people smuggler payments expose problems with our relationship with Indonesia.

Indonesia expert Professor Greg Barton tells News Breakfast allegations of people smuggler payments expose problems with our relationship with Indonesia.

Scott Morrison responds to allegations

"We have always done things lawfully": Scott Morrison on cash for turnbacks.

“We have always done things lawfully”: Scott Morrison on cash for turnbacks.

Indonesia shows proof of bribery

The Sydney Morning Herald - Boat scandal police chief shows us 'the money' - June, 17 2015.

The Sydney Morning Herald – Boat scandal police chief shows us ‘the money’ – June, 17 2015.

UN shocked

  • Sarah Whyte reported, “The United Nations refugee agency says it would be “shocked” if any government had handed over money to people smugglers, saying cooperating with criminal gangs is not going to solve the problem of global displacement. The Indonesian representative for UNHCR Thomas Vargas told Fairfax Media that the organisation had spoken to the asylum seekers who claim Australian authorities handed over US$5000 in cash to the crew on board.”: UN refugee agency ‘shocked’ if government paid people smugglers.

Cartoons

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(June 16, 2015) – Stop the bribes

Thomas Vargas details interview with asylum seekers

Asylum seekers on board a boat heading for Australia have told the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that they saw Australian authorities give money to the boat's captain, reports the UNHCR's Indonesia representative Thomas Vargas.

Asylum seekers on board a boat heading for Australia have told the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that they saw Australian authorities give money to the boat’s captain, reports the UNHCR’s Indonesia representative Thomas Vargas.

Cash display

  • Bagus BT Saragih and Ina Parlina reported, “The government has refused to bow to Australia’s demand to step up its border protection amid an escalating war of words following Canberra’s refusal to deny that Australian authorities had paid people-smugglers to return to Indonesia.”: Jakarta keeps cool over boat ‘bribe’ claims.

Reuters: Asylum seeker says he was on boat paid by Australian authorities to turn back to Indonesia.

Reuters: Asylum seeker says he was on boat paid by Australian authorities to turn back to Indonesia.

Senate – Documents relating to payments

Bill Shorten

Two days in Question Time- Labor didn't pay cash for turnbacks.

Two days in Question Time- Labor didn’t pay cash for turnbacks.

MPs tight lipped

Former officer Andrew Wilke MP

  • Sky News Australia reported, “A former intelligence analyst says the practice of paying cash to people smugglers is a recent and unhelpful development. The Abbott government is facing calls to clarify reports Australian officials paid $US30,000 to people smugglers to return to Indonesia. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, a former officer with the Office of National Assessments, said he was aware of Australian involvement in ‘disruption operations’ over a decade ago.”: Wilkie says cash to people smugglers is new.

Senator David Leyonhjelm

Comment – The Age

  • The Age wrote, “What murky and fetid waters has the Abbott government sailed this nation into now? When Fairfax Media reported claims last week by an Indonesian police chief and others that Australian authorities had paid the crew of a people-smuggling vessel thousands of dollars to turn around and head back to Indonesia, it at first seemed at first too preposterous to be true.”: Mr Abbott’s morally bankrupt boat business.
  • Shalailah Medhora reported, “‘I am in the business of building a strong relationship … not aggravating things,’ prime minister says, adding that stopping the boats has improved ties”: Tony Abbott accuses media of ‘promoting discord’ with Indonesia.

Helping out

Terri Butler MP and Senator John Williams

Discussing cash for turnbacks, Terri Butler MP says Australia needs to increase the refugee intake while Senator John Williams says "whatever it takes" is acceptable to stop the boats.

Discussing cash for turnbacks, Terri Butler MP says Australia needs to increase the refugee intake while Senator John Williams says “whatever it takes” is acceptable to stop the boats.

Labor paid people smugglers but not for turnbacks

  • Sarah Whyte and David Wroe reported, “Cash payments have been made to members of Indonesian people-smuggling rings by Australian intelligence officials for at least the past four years – including under the former Labor government, Fairfax Media has learnt. Multiple sources have said that such payments have been part of successive governments’ tactics, though not always as part of boat turnbacks, which were not used by the previous government.”: Asylum boat turnbacks: Australia paid people smugglers under former Labor government.
  • Cameron Stewart and Rowan Callick reported, “Australian spies and police working inside Indonesia have been involved in a secret war against people-smugglers since 2001, including using paid informers to help destroy the trade.”: Spies, police have paid Indonesian informers for years.
  • Sky News Australia reported, “Labor is refusing to comment on reports people smugglers were given cash payments in 2010 when it was in government. Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh told Sky News, Labor did not pay to turn boats around but refused to say if people smugglers were paid in any circumstances.”: Labor may have also paid people smugglers.
Sky News: "Matters of national security": Labor may have paid people smugglers for intel.

Sky News: “Matters of national security”: Labor may have paid people smugglers for intel.

Professor Don Rothwell

Prosecution requires consent of Attorney-General: Prof Don Rothwell on cash for turnbacks.

Prosecution requires consent of Attorney-General: Prof Don Rothwell on cash for turnbacks.

Indonesia labels payments ‘bribes’

Who is the mysterious “Agus”?

In the media

Cartoons

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(June 15, 2015) – Conspiracy theories

What we know so far

  • Paul Farrell reported, “The Australian government is facing growing pressure to respond to allegations that it paid people smugglers to return an asylum-seeker vessel back to Indonesia. The prime minister, Tony Abbott, refused to rule out whether such an operation had occurred, but said the government was “prepared to do what is necessary” to prevent asylum-seeker boats arriving in Australia. The claims have arisen gradually, and information from official sources remains sparse. Here’s what we know so far.”: Australia and people-smuggler payment claims: what we know so far.

HRC President Gillian Triggs

It would be illegal: HRC President Gillian Triggs responds to cash for turnbacks

It would be illegal: HRC President Gillian Triggs responds to cash for turnbacks

Jakarta responds, tensions escalate

  • Daniel Hurst, Lenore Taylor and Beh Lih Yi reported, “Indonesia has warned Australia that government-sanctioned payments to people smugglers would entice even more people to make dangerous journeys between the two countries, in an increasing diplomatic row over alleged bribes to boat crews to turn back. Jakarta also demanded Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, retract her “inappropriate” statement that Indonesia is to blame for failing to secure its borders in the first place.”: Jakarta demands Bishop retract claim Indonesia failing to secure its border.
  • The Jakarta Post reported, “A professor of international law from the University of Indonesia (UI), Hikmahanto Juwana, has said Indonesia needs to ensure that Australia can change its policy of expelling asylum seekers. He says such a policy contradicts a Transnational Organized Crimes’ protocol, namely the “Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air” the Australian government ratified in 2004.”: Australia must stop expulsion of asylum seekers: Expert.
  • Daniel Flitton wrote, “Backed into a corner, this government excels at deflection with a righteous display of indignation. Julie Bishop has sought to turn back on Indonesia the persistent and uncomfortable questions about whether Australia paid off crews of asylum seeker boats.”: Asylum boats: Australia and Indonesia both play domestic politics.

Interview with Andreas Harsono HRW

Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch on cash for turnbacks.

Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch on cash for turnbacks.

It happened – David Marr

David Marr on cash for turnbacks: "It happened."

David Marr on cash for turnbacks: “It happened.”

No straight answers in question time

Did the government pay people smugglers to return to Indonesia? That would be an "operational" and "intelligence" matter says the government.

Did the government pay people smugglers to return to Indonesia? That would be an “operational” and “intelligence” matter says the government.

Attorney-General George Brandis dismisses claims

"The question is academic": A-G George Brandis on cash for turnbacks.

“The question is academic”: A-G George Brandis on cash for turnbacks.

Defence Minister says not a matter for defence personnel

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews confirms this is not a matter involving defence personnel.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews confirms this is not a matter involving defence personnel.

Further legal advice

Bring back Philip Ruddock – Cheaper in the long run

Bring back ScoMo – Confidence

By hook or BUY crooks

ABC News: Did the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott have knowledge of 'cash for turnbacks'.

ABC News: Did the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott have knowledge of ‘cash for turnbacks’.

Tony Abbott a "diplomatic clutz": Senator Sarah Hanson-Young responds to cash for turnbacks.

Tony Abbott a “diplomatic clutz”: Senator Sarah Hanson-Young responds to cash for turnbacks.

Bishop attacks Indonesia

Exclusive to Daily Telegraph – Spies like us

  • Simon Benson reported, “AUSTRALIAN spies may have been involved in paying people smugglers to turn their boats around as part of a classified operation to disrupt their movements, a senior intelligence source revealed. Labor is demanding the government confirm or deny reports that Australian navy officials recently paid people-smugglers to return a boat to Indonesia. However, a senior intelligence source has told The Daily Telegraph that Australia’s foreign intelligence service ASIS had been engaged in covert disruption and intelligence operations which may have involved such payments. “: Aussie spies may have paid people smugglers.

Exclusive to The Australian – Blame Indonesia

  • Greg Sheridan reported, “Julie Bishop has delivered a stinging rebuke to Jakarta over allegations that Australian officials paid people-smugglers to turn a boat around, with the Foreign Minister suggesting Indonesia was to blame for failing to enforce sovereignty over its own borders.”: Julie Bishop tells Jakarta to fix borders.
  • Greg Sheridan wrote, “The key to the mystery of whether and what payments any Australians may have made to the Indonesian crew of an illegal people-smuggling boat lies not in Canberra but in Indonesia. If Australians did make any payments such as this, they were probably trying to save people’s lives in a desperate situation at sea. Let’s be quite blunt about all this and for a change tell the undiplomatic truth. Elements of the Indonesian police have routinely been corruptly involved in illegal people-smuggling ventures.”: Time to tell the undiplomatic truth.
The Australian - Bishop Tells Jakarta To Fix Borders - June 15, 2015.

The Australian – Bishop Tells Jakarta To Fix Borders – June 15, 2015.

Analysis – What’s it really about?

  • Wendy Frew reported, “Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to confirm or deny allegations that Australian officials paid asylum boat crews to turn back to Indonesia has got many wondering about his choice of words.
    Migrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were reportedly heading to New Zealand last month when an Australian navy ship intercepted them and an immigration official paid each member of the crew A$5,000 ($3,900; £2,500) to turn back to Indonesia.”: What Tony Abbott’s boat rhetoric is really about.

Analysis – Australia wants answers

Analysis – Government by complete fruit loops

  • Macro Business wrote, “If this proves to be true it destroys the “stop the boats” policy. Paying people smugglers tax-payer’s money to turn back is people smuggling. It encourages them to keep coming for more money as they get paid for both legs of the ‘wait and return’ job. It is morally, legally, practically, strategically and politically indefensible. “:  Tony Abbott: People smuggler?

Cartoons

 

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(June 14, 2015) – Still stopping the boats

Labor calls for investigation

Letter published by asylum seekers

Damaging relations

Tim Lester reported: "Stop the boats" - The issue of whether Australia paid people smugglers to turn around and go back to Indonesia is now affecting diplomatic relations with Jakarta.

Tim Lester reported: “Stop the boats” – The issue of whether Australia paid people smugglers to turn around and go back to Indonesia is now affecting diplomatic relations with Jakarta.

Indonesia still awaiting answers

Wads of cash

Abbott responds with ‘stop the boats’

Shoes thrown at Peter Dutton

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees

Dutton clams up

  • Radio New Zealand reported, ” The captain and crew of a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers were allegedly given $5000 dollars each to return to Indonesian waters. Last week Mr Dutton strenously denied the claims, but now is not commenting, reports the ABC. “The Government will always do the right thing by the Australian people, we will act within the law, we will act within our international obligations but from day one we have not commented on specific operations, we provide details at a time which is operationally appropriate.”: Australia’s immigration minister will no longer comment on alleged smuggling payments.

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(June 13, 2015) – Indonesia demands answers

Indonesian Foreign Minister responds

Charles Croucher reported: Retno Marsudi questions Australian ambassador to Indonesia over 'cash for turnbacks'

Charles Croucher reported: Retno Marsudi questions Australian ambassador to Indonesia over ‘cash for turnbacks’

Abbott continues to refuse to answer

Legal ramifications

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(June 12, 2015) – By hook or by crook

Julie Bishop follows Peter Dutton’s lead

  • George Roberts reported, “Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has denied claims by Indonesian police that Australian Customs officials paid thousands of dollars to people smugglers to take asylum seekers back to Indonesia. A boat carrying 65 asylum seekers crashed onto a reef near the remote Rote Island, off West Papua, last week and those on board said Australian authorities had turned them back. Rote Island’s police chief said the captain of the boat, a man called Yohanis from North Sulawesi, told police an Australian Customs official paid each crew member $5,000 to bring asylum seekers back to Indonesia. A Sri Lankan asylum seeker called Kajuran told ABC News a similar story, but the claim was difficult to understand or verify.”: Julie Bishop denies claims Australian Customs officers paid people smugglers to take back asylum seekers.

Full ‘by hook or by crook’ interview

Neil Mitchell interviewed Tony Abbott: "We stop the boats by hook or by crook."

Neil Mitchell interviewed Tony Abbott: “We stop the boats by hook or by crook.”

Tony Abbott wont confirm or deny

Tony Abbott "What this government has done is stop the boats."

Tony Abbott “What this government has done is stop the boats.”

Tony Abbott: "We are not in the business of giving information to people smugglers."

Tony Abbott: “We are not in the business of giving information to people smugglers.”

Indonesia to investigate

  • George Roberts reported, “Indonesia says police are investigating claims that Australian officials paid people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesia. A boat carrying 65 asylum seekers crashed onto a reef near the remote Rote Island, off West Papua, last week. The passengers and crew reported being intercepted by Australian border patrols and being sent back to Indonesia. Rote Island’s police chief said the crew were allegedly paid $5,000 each by an Australian Customs official called Agus to take the passengers back to Australia.”: Indonesia to investigate claims Australia paid people smugglers to turn back.
  • The Jakarta Post reported, “An Indonesian official on Friday criticized Australia’s prime minister as “unethical” for sidestepping allegations the Australian navy paid the crew of a boat carrying 65 migrants to return to Indonesian waters.”: Australia PM’s asylum boat stance ‘very unethical’.

Julian Burnside – Dealing with the devil

Making international news

Tell us Tony

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(June 11, 2015) – AFP to investigate

Crew members detained

  • Jewel TopsfieldKaruni Rompies and Sarah Whyte reported, “Three Australian Federal Police officers will visit the Indonesian island of Rote where six crew members are being detained on people smuggling charges, according to Indonesian police. A boat with 65 people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar seeking asylum in New Zealand was intercepted by Australian authorities last month and sent back to Indonesia. Bangladeshi asylum seeker Nazmul Hassan, who said he saw the captain put money in his pocket. Bangladeshi asylum seeker Nazmul Hassan, who said he saw the captain put money in his pocket. The police chief from the Indonesian island of Rote, where the asylum seekers swum ashore after their boat hit rocks, said the six crew had told him Australian authorities had paid them US$5000 each, as reported by Fairfax Media yesterday.”: Australian Federal Police to visit Rote island amid asylum seeker boat claims.
  • Daniel Hurst and Beh Lih Yi reported, “Indonesia is investigating claims that Australia paid people smugglers to turn their boat back to Indonesian waters in a development which, if proved, it would consider “very concerning”. The probe came after reports emerged that an Australian border protection official allegedly paid the captain and crew of a boat carrying about 65 asylum seekers about US$30,000 ($39,000) to turn back to Indonesia in late May. “We are currently investigating this. If this is true, it is very concerning,” an Indonesian foreign affairs ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, told the Guardian on Thursday, adding that the information was based on initial interviews with migrants on the boat and one crew member.”: Indonesia looks into claims Australia paid people smugglers to turn back.

The offence of people smuggling

  • Amy Maguire wrote, “Law professor Don Rothwell believes that Australian officials are well protected by the Migration Act. This legislation gives a wide range of discretion to officials so long as they act within the scope of their authority. The act says nothing about payments to the crew of people-smuggling vessels. The act makes people smuggling a crime, punishable by ten years’ imprisonment. The act also indicates that the government should be permitted to regulate dealings with asylum seekers with minimal oversight by the domestic courts or the international legal system.”: Is it an offence if Australians pay people smugglers to turn back?

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(June 10, 2015) – Immigration Minister denies payments

People smugglers paid to return

  • Jewel TopsfieldKaruni Rompies and Sarah Whyte reported, “Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to the captain and crew of a boat carrying asylum seekers, who were then returned to Indonesia, according to passengers and an Indonesian police chief. Sixty-five people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, who were seeking asylum in New Zealand, had their boat intercepted by Australian navy and Customs officials in late May, and were then returned to the island of Rote. The Indonesian police chief on Rote, Hidayat, said the six crew members said they had been given $US5000 each by Australian officials. The crew were apprehended when they arrived at Rote and are being processed for people-smuggling offences.”: Australian officials paid people smugglers to turn back to Indonesia, says police chief.

Peter Dutton denies payment to people smugglers

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(June 8, 2015) – Cash for turnbacks

Radio New Zealand airs allegations

  • Daniela Maoate – Cox reported, “A refugee in an Indonesian detention centre says Australian officials paid the crew and captain of the boat he and others were on to take them away from Australia. Sixty-five refugees from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have said they were heading for New Zealand last week when they ended up shipwrecked and detained in Indonesia. Nazmul Hassan, from Bangladesh, said he is one of the group detained in the Indonesian province of West Timor.”: Claim officials paid for boat to leave.

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(June 3, 2015) – Australian Navy turns back boat

Given two new boats

  • Yoseph Kelen reported, “Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. A group of asylum seekers on their way to Australia from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were given supplies by the Australian Navy and then sent back to Indonesian waters, one of them confirmed on Tuesday. The group of 65 people is currently staying at the Ina Boi Hotel in Kupang, after landing on nearby Rote island, in East Nusa Tenggara province, on Sunday night. Raguvarman, from Bangladesh, told reporters on Tuesday that their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy near the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, south of Rote. The asylum seeker said the boat crew was given two new boats, food, money and fuel by the Australians, and that they were then sent back north, confirming an earlier Reuters report.”: Asylum Seekers Given Supplies by Oz Navy, Sent Back to Indonesia.

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(June 2, 2015) – Shipwreck off Rote Island confirmed

Wreck the boats

  • George Roberts reported, “Indonesian police say a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers has crashed onto a reef after being turned back by Australian authorities. Those aboard — 54 Sri Lankans, 10 Bangladeshis, one person from Myanmar and five additional crew — told Indonesian police they were trying to get to New Zealand. There were four women and three toddlers on board. They are now being held on Rote Island off West Timor after crashing onto a reef near the remote Landuti Island.”: Asylum seeker boat crashes onto reef after being turned back by Australian ship: Indonesian police.
  • The Jakarta Globe reported, “Jakarta. Indonesian authorities have rescued 65 asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia after their boat ran aground on a reef, Indonesian police said on Tuesday. An Australian opposition politician said the boat had run aground after being towed away by the Australian navy, underscoring the risk to migrants of a tough Australian policy. Migrants crammed into boats have been trying to cross the Mediterranean between Africa and Europe in recent weeks and the Andaman Sea in Asia, highlighting a global issue that many countries are struggling to deal with.”: Indonesia Rescues 65 ‘After Australian Navy Towed Away’ Asylum Boat.
  • Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies reported, “Australian customs turned back 65 people, including a pregnant woman, after their boat reached Australian waters last Tuesday, according to an Indonesian police chief. The 65 people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, who reportedly claimed to be asylum seekers, are in detention on the Indonesian island of Rote. Fishermen spotted two boats floating near Landuti island in the West Rote district, 500 kilometres north-east of the Australian coast, on Sunday. “They looked exhausted,” Rote police chief Hidayat said. “One female passenger is pregnant – we took her immediately to the hospital but she is ok now.” Mr Hidayat said the migrants told him they had been caught by Australian customs on May 26, who sunk their boat. They were put in two blue and white boats, and sent back into Indonesian waters.”: Australia turned back 65 people on boat, including a pregnant woman, police chief says.
  • Paul Farrell reported, “Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said Australia is continuing to shirk responsibility for asylum seekers in the region as reports come in of a further turnback by an Australian vessel. On Tuesday reports emerged from Indonesia that asylum seekers bound for New Zealand had been intercepted by an Australian navy vessel. The ABC reported that the vessel held 54 Sri Lankans and 10 Bangladeshis, who were now on Rote Island in Indonesia. It has also been reported that children were among those on board the vessel, which crashed on a reef.”: Asylum seeker policy shirks regional obligations, says Greens senator.
  • Kaitlin Thals reported, “Indonesian police say a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers has crashed onto a reef after being turned back by Australian authorities. Those aboard the boat — 54 Sri Lankans, 10 Bangladeshis, one person from Myanmar and five crew — told Indonesian police they were trying to get to New Zealand. There were four women and three toddlers on board.”: Navy turns back asylum seekers, boat hits reef.
  • Rachel Baxendale reported, “The Australian navy has pushed a boatload of asylum-seekers from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka who were bound for New Zealand back into Indonesian waters, police on the archipelago have declared. The 65 migrants were intercepted by the Australian navy and had since come ashore, said Hidayat, a police official on Rote Island in Indonesia’s east. “According to their testimony, they were pushed back by the Australian navy and immigration after they were interrogated,” he said last night.“They said they were on their way to New Zealand.””: Australian Navy in boat turnback as crisis spreads.

Boat intended for New Zealand

  • Aimee Gulliver reported, “A people-smuggling boat with 65 people on board was a “credible risk and threat”, and had the capability to make it to New Zealand, the Prime Minister says. Australian customs turned back 65 people, including a pregnant woman, after their boat reached Australian waters last Tuesday, according to an Indonesian police chief. The 65 people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, who reportedly claimed to be asylum seekers, were in detention on the Indonesian island of Rote. John Key said the boat had a steel hull, was more robust than others had been, and had been on its way to New Zealand. “The advice we got was that it actually had the capability of making it all the way to New Zealand, so we alerted the systems that we have in the way to work through those processes.” The boat had put out a distress call in relation to sick people on board and was boarded by Australian personnel. “So it fits in with what I’ve been saying for quite some time, these people smugglers are going to get hold of more robust boats, better capability, this was a steel-hull boat that could have made it to New Zealand.””: People-smuggling boat ‘credible risk and threat’ to NZ.

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(June 1, 2015) – First media reports

Turnbacks suspected

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reported, “Scores of asylum-seekers have come ashore in eastern Indonesia after their boat was intercepted by the Australian navy and pushed into Indonesian waters as they headed for New Zealand, police say. The 65 migrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were spotted by the Australians, said Hidayat, an Indonesian police official on Rote Island in the east of the archipelago. “According to their testimony, they were pushed back by the Australian navy and immigration after they were interrogated,” said the official on Monday, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. “They said they were on their way to New Zealand.”“: Indonesia says Australian navy turns back asylum-seeker boat.

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(May 2, 2015) – Report of a boat

Boat mentioned in The West Australian

  • Nick Butterly reported, “Customs officials were last night racing to intercept an asylum-seeker vessel – the first in Australian waters in more than a month. The West Australian understands Border Protection Command spotted the boat in remote waters between Java and Ashmore Reef yesterday and sent a patrol boat to pick it up. It was unclear if Customs would take the boat under escort to Australia or try to turn it back to Indonesia.”: Race to block asylum seekers.

-Ends

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