Find below a truly great comment by Neil James on this post at New Matilda I hope that the author does not mind but I was so impressed by his succinct argument that I thought it would be good to share it with the reader’s of the Sandpit
There are surely some questionable assumptions and conceptual mistakes underlying this article.
Asylum and refugee matters remain first and foremost strategic policy issues. They comprise just one part of Australia’s broader and longer-term strategic relationships with neighbouring countries and our broader region collectively. We also need to avoid them becoming a defining or persistent problem in the overall complexity of these strategic relationships.
The potential for regional neighbours to coerce Australia strategically by facilitating illegal immigration or extra-regional refugee flows into Australia must also be avoided. Or indeed the situation whereby Australia has to bribe some countries to reciprocate their wider obligations as friendly neighbours or meet their asylum responsibilities under customary international law.
Day-to-day public discussion of refugee and asylum-seeker matters in Australia is greatly hampered by incorrect assumptions that ignore these foreign and strategic policy implications. Debate is instead dominated by Australia-centric perspectives focused on domestic attitudes and party politics, community compassion, Australian law, or human rights matters only as they apply within Australia.
Most public and party-political argument has consequently tended to revolve ineffectively around the recurrent symptoms of the dilemmas involved, rather than seriously examine or fix their actual strategic, legal and moral causes.
It is simplistic to assume that Australia can just ignore Indonesian sovereignty – or our complex wider relationships with that country – by somehow just shouldering Indonesia aside in its own territorial and geographic waters or in Indonesia’s internationally designated zone of search & rescue responsibility.
Tragic though the circumstances undoubtedly are, the last boat to sink was an Indonesian one, crewed by Indonesians, owned and directed by Indonesian criminals and had illegally left an Indonesian port after bribing corrupt Indonesian officials. It sank 50 metres (yes metres) off an Indonesian beach in Java.
As the article correctly notes, the delays and evasions of responsibility were wholly Indonesian not Australian. They could have done more but apparently chose not to. Their supposed total incapacity to help is simply not true and is no excuse anyway. After all, after so many tragedies just off Indonesia’s coast why cannot they improve their capacity in even the most basic ways?
What we are actually seeing in most cases is deliberate policy choices by Indonesia. Or an unwillingness to tackle the mix of corruption, national embarrassment, anti-Australian racism and political inertia involved. It is not just an incapacity matter even if that was an acceptable excuse which it is not.
Australians concerned over this matter need to hold Indonesia to account, rather than just Australia. They should begin by not blithely accepting every Indonesian official or other prevarication and excuse at face value – just as they would if such ridiculous statements were made by an Australian official. The near-total loss of objectivity in Australia about even the most specious Indonesian claims is a major part of the problem.
Australia has international search & rescue responsibilities for some ten per cent of the Earth’s surface. NZ has another eight per cent. Indonesia’s zone is much, much smaller and its navy actually has more ships. While there are undoubtedly some economic disparity factors involved, the overall problem of Indonesian unwillingness or “incapacity” will never be solved – and people will continue to drown – while Indonesia is never held to account for not meeting its internationally agreed search & rescue responsibilities. Just like every other country.
Now if only our over emotional friends from the left could truly absorb the content of this argument they might just stop talking rot and understand the true nature of the problem instead of trying to guilt trip every grown up in the country when an asylum seeker drowns.
- Asylum Seekers and Refugees: Putting Things in Perspective (thejakartaglobe.com)
- Indonesian police seek smuggling kingpin (skynews.com.au)
- ‘High-value’ suspects among alleged people smugglers arrested in Indonesia (abc.net.au)
- Australia PM downplays Indonesia opposition to refugee plans (channelnewsasia.com)