WADS OF CASH? TURNING ASYLUM BOATS AROUND – THAT’S THE CRIME 1

MEDIA RELEASE

WADS OF CASH? TURNING ASYLUM BOATS AROUND – THAT’S THE CRIME

It is now quite clear that the Coalition government, the architects of
Operation Sovereign Borders, did pay the boat crew of a recent asylum
boat to take asylum seekers back to Indonesia. The crew says it, the
asylum seekers say it, the Indonesian police say it and the long list
of government denials says all the public needs to know about who is
telling the truth.

In this case, as in every other turn-around, the government is guilty
of crimes on the high seas; trafficking defenceless people who were
attempting to get to safety in New Zealand and returning them to
danger.

The incident has also exposed the lie that the Coalition has stopped
the boats. Almost two years since the start of Operation Sovereign
Borders and asylum boats are still coming. The turn around also
revealed that for all the supposed sophistication and military power
of Operation Sovereign Borders, it is underpinned by wads of cash.

The media and political furore has focussed on the government’s
denials and the payment of money to the boat crew – but the real crime
is that the government has prevented another boat of asylum seekers
gaining the protection and security they need.

“The furore has revealed much hypocrisy – the Coalition’s complete
lack of scruples, and its willingness to use bribes, but also from
Labor,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action
Coalition.

“Labor politicians have tried to make political mileage by using the
same rhetoric about ‘people smuggling’ as the Coalition. Rather than
demonise boat crews, that provide an indispensable service for asylum
seekers, Labor should be attacking the Coalition’s turn-around policy
and its ban on accepting refugees from Indonesia.

“Abbott says that the Coalition uses turn-arounds, when it is ‘safe to
do so’. But there is nothing safe about turn-arounds. These boats
foundered on a reef off Landuti Island.

“By choosing not to use the very obvious orange lifeboats to return
asylum seekers to Indonesia, the government had to resort to paying
the crew to try to make sure that the boats would head to Indonesia
and not attempt to continue to travel to Australia, or New Zealand, as
they originally intended. The government has been caught out by it’s
own ‘cleverness’.

“We support the Indonesian government fully investigating the
incident,” said Rintoul, “The Australian government’s cover-up attempt
deserves to be exposed. It shamefully continues to use Indonesia as a
dumping ground.

“It has tens of thousands of dollars, indeed millions, to arrange
turn-backs but has not given a cent to Indonesia to assist with the
thousands of Rohingya asylum seekers who recently found safety in
Aceh.

“The turn-around policy is just an invitation for asylum seekers to
die elsewhere. The real crime of the Abbott government is that it
continues to violate human rights and international law by turning
asylum boats back to Indonesia.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul +61 417 275 713