Tag Archives: asylum seekers

We talk with Indonesia every day — but is anyone listening?

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop “insists” that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is “very positive”. But Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa is equally insistent that there is a serious problem with the relationship. If there is regular dialogue between Australia and Indonesia, as Bishop claims, it would seem it is being conducted at cross purposes. Bishop […]

Australia's big asylum seeker policy hole

Australia and Indonesia have worked hard over the past decade to build a strong bilateral relationship, seen as valuable by Indonesia and as critically important by Australia. That relationship is now in tatters. The Australian government has been at pains to explain to Indonesia that recent naval incursions into Indonesian territorial waters, intended to stop […]

With Indonesia, the relationship is going from bad to worse

Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is at one of its historic low points, despite claims to the contrary by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. What is unusual about this most recent contretemps with Indonesia, with which Australia has previously had several difficulties, is that, unlike in the past, the current problems are entirely a consequence of Australian […]

West Papuan activists test waters around Australian asylum rules

West Papuan activists are testing Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s statements in relation to his asylum-seeker boat turnback policy, that he has “total respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty, total respect for Indonesia’s territorial integrity”. So far, they are having little luck. As Abbott was preparing to leave for Bali, three West Papuan activists scaled the wall of […]

Abbott's first foreign test: pulling policy fat from diplomatic fire

Tony Abbott’s first international test as prime minister is also likely to be his toughest, when he meets with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today. It will be a remarkable feat if he can pull the policy fat from the diplomatic fire. In the balance lies Australia’s critical relationship with Indonesia. Not only has Abbott’s […]

Australia playing Sri Lanka's authoritarian game

In the dog-whistle competition between major political parties against asylum seekers and the war on alleged “terrorism”, the Australian government has jailed legitimate refugees, without charge, for reasons — extraordinarily — we are not allowed to know about. Opposition Senator George Brandis claims refugees who are deemed a “security threat” should be jailed because they […]

Tamils pay the cost of political expediency

At a time of bipartisan support for renewing the Pacific Solution, it is deeply disturbing to see the asylum seeker issue taking a turn for the more extreme. In a world of dog-whistle politics, it appears that further punishing victims is acceptable if it can score domestic political points. Despite the opposition’s success in the […]

The ongoing asylum seeker debacle: It will always be about the push factors!

Let’s start with some basic facts. The 1951 Refugee Convention (as broadened by the 1967 Protocol) provides that the term “refugee” shall apply to any person who:   "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his […]

Dog-whistle politics offends Indonesian ears

Not since Malcolm Fraser was prime minister has the federal Coalition understood, much less had an engaged relationship with, South-East Asia. This lack of understanding and engagement was reflected again yesterday when the Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Julie Bishop, made a ‘courtesy call’ on the chair and deputy chair of Indonesia’s legislature (DPR). What should […]