Prime Minister Julia Gillard has decided to take in more illegals living in camps in Indonesia, to the satisfaction of the Indonesians. Despite her vague intimations to the contrary, she clearly has no intention of cutting back the flow of “asylum seekers”. Deeds speak louder than words.
And even the Indonesians can see that it is a foolish decision that will just encourage more illegals to come!
Indonesia has backed Australia’s secret decision to accept an additional 450 refugees annually for resettlement. But Jakarta has warned that the extra places could act as a magnet for asylum-seekers.
With Immigration Minister Chris Evans refusing to confirm the expanded resettlement arrangements, authorities in Jakarta announced they would establish a five-person taskforce to investigate claims corrupt government officials were working with smugglers to send people to Australia. The claims, aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program, provoked fresh skirmishes on the campaign trail yesterday.
Julia Gillard sought to deflect questions about corruption in Indonesia. “We’ve made resources available to the Indonesians to assist with the disruption of people-smuggling and we have enjoyed some success in that,” the Prime Minister said.
But Tony Abbott seized on the report, declaring people smugglers were “out of control”. “The only way to get that situation under control is to deny the people-smugglers a product to sell, and that means bringing back temporary protection visas, and this is one thing that the Rudd-Gillard government just won’t do,” the Opposition Leader said.
The head of Indonesia’s Immigration Department Muhammad Indra said he had formed the team in response to the allegations, which portrayed widespread and high-level corruption within Indonesia’s military and Immigration Department. “We need to investigate this because we don’t want to be undermined,” Mr Indra said. “But it’s a long process. We still have to gather evidence.”
Director of enforcement and investigation for the Immigration Department Husein Alaydrus warned yesterday that news of the additional places could attract yet more asylum-seekers. “If (the extra places) reduces the numbers of asylum-seekers already in Indonesia, then I suppose its a good thing,” Mr Alaydrus said. “But if it becomes an attracting factor, then I don’t think that would be good.”
Canberra’s unannounced decision to increase refugee resettlements through Indonesia from the current 50 people annually to 500 was disclosed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees senior representative in Jakarta Manuel Jordao on the Four Corners program. Senator Evans refused to give any details on the increased number of refugees, saying only that resettlement from Indonesia was a “normal process”.
But yesterday, Mr Alaydrus said he had been alerted several days earlier to the Canberra decision by Australian officials.
Indonesia currently holds about 2200 illegal registered asylum-seekers, about 1200 in 13 detention centres and the rest free in the community, awaiting processing for refugee placement or deportation.