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Should operations to turn the boats around be kept secret?

Acting opposition leader Chris Bowen said in a doorstop interview earlier this week that: There is absolutely no operational reason for the new minister of immigration not to be up front with the Australian…

There are operational naval reasons behind Scott Morrison’s decision to put asylum seeker arrivals and ‘turn backs’ behind a shroud of secrecy. AAP/Scott Fisher

Acting opposition leader Chris Bowen said in a doorstop interview earlier this week that:

There is absolutely no operational reason for the new minister of immigration not to be up front with the Australian people when a boat arrives and when a turn-back is attempted.

Unfortunately, this statement is not correct. Operation Sovereign Borders, a key plank of the Abbott government’s policy to stop asylum seeker arrivals by boat, is a military-led activity and there are operational reasons for information related to stopping the boats not being made public.

These relate to the modus operandi of the Special Forces (SF) in boarding refugee boats and using force as necessary to turn them around. However, these operational reasons are outweighed by other considerations.

Australian Defence Force doctrine

The SF is the element of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) that will be used in enforcing a strong “turn around” policy. The crews of naval patrol boats are trained to board and search suspicious vessels but not to seize a vessel against possible violent resistance.

Under current ADF doctrine that’s a job for the SF. This is the probable reason why a senior army officer - Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell - with considerable experience in SF operations has been placed in command of Operation Sovereign Borders.

SF operations are highly classified and SF personnel are never identified by name. This is the principle that will be applied with their employment in stopping the boats. It provides some operational reasons for not releasing details of the operations associated with turning back a refugee boat.

However, this is not to say that maintaining secrecy on these operations is either justified or achievable.

Reasons for secrecy

The government’s policy in maintaining secrecy on stopping the boats is likely to be motivated by the desire to avoid a reaction from the Australian public - particularly the asylum seeker lobby - and from other interested parties, notably Indonesia and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Undoubtedly, Indonesia will be watching Australia’s operations closely for any impact on its sovereignty.

Operations to turn back the boats will also be subject to wider international scrutiny, particularly with regard to Australia’s obligations to ensure the safety of life at sea. The Howard government’s handling of the Tampa affair in 2001 and its attempts to “stop the boats” were strongly criticised at the IMO, the UN organisation with oversight of maritime safety and security.

These criticisms led to amendments to the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) Conventions, and to the promulgation of guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea.

These amendments and guidelines reinforced existing obligations for ship masters and countries to provide assistance to any person in distress at sea, regardless of the nationality or status of that person. There are high risks that Australia’s operations to stop the boats may run counter to these instruments, particularly in the likely circumstances that robust action to turn back the boats could lead to the disabling or sinking of a vessel, thereby threatening safety of life at sea.

It is also likely that the reasons for not releasing information on the operations are overshadowed by the deterrent value of the tactics being known. The people smugglers and asylum seekers may well be deterred by any publicity confirming a strong Australian response.

Will secrecy be achievable?

It is most unlikely that the policy of suppressing information will work. The refugees have mobile phones and will try to tell their version of operations before their phones are seized by SF personnel on boarding a vessel. The residents of Christmas Island will also have a fair idea of what is happening.

When the leaks about actual operations occur, the rumours may do more harm to Australia’s international image than the actual facts.

Lastly, there is the issue of possible legal action resulting from an incident at sea. This was the case after the Tampa affair and some of the subsequent incidents that involved loss of life. Ultimately, Australia’s actions in stopping the boats must be legally defensible and in accordance with both national and international law. This will be extremely difficult to achieve. Jurisdiction at sea is notoriously complex.

The ADF doctrinal publication dealing with maritime jurisdiction notes that the lesson for the ADF following the Tampa affair is:

…the need for scrupulous attention to legality in planning and execution of operations to enforce the Migration Act.

Final thoughts

Chris Bowen may have been wrong in claiming that there is absolutely no operational reason for suppressing information on turning back the boats. However, he is well justified in questioning the legitimacy and validity of the new government’s policy of secrecy, as revealed by immigration minister Scott Morrison.

Recent press reports suggest that after several “loose cannon” statements by government ministers, prime minister Tony Abbott is tightening up on the freedom of his ministers to make public statements. Morrison’s statement has been quoted as an example of a statement causing prime ministerial concern.

Given the obvious problems with the secrecy policy, this is not surprising.

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92 Comments sorted by

  1. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    Basically everything will be better than the disaster created by the ALP

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    1. Paul Felix

      Builder

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      I tried to make sense of his but failed.
      Abbott has supported pretty well all the Labor legislation on refugees (Malaysia a notable exception), so if there was a disaster it was voted for by Abbott.
      But best not let truth get in the way of expediency or distortions.

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    2. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Paul Felix

      That's odd, Abbott has been criticising the changes the ALP made to the Libs policies for years and he even went to an election with that.

      But you're correct, don't let the truth get in the way of expediency and distortions

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    3. Paul Felix

      Builder

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      Pretty simple way of dealing with this, look up Hansard.
      Oops, not a good suggestion that was probably doctored by the socialists satans of the last government.

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    4. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Much easier to check the Liberal Party's policy on this on their website.

      Apart from that if Abbott supported the ALP on the current policies, why is everyone making such a fuss about it now?

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    5. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      Rene the Coalition banged on endlessly about "stopping and turning back the boats" before the election and now it seeks to hide the facts about boat arrivals. Utter hypocrisy!

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    6. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      You going to be told about it once a week, what's wrong with that?

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    7. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      Yep Rene, few policy disasters can equate with the ALP relaxation of Howard/Ruddock border laws. In fact, the ONLY industry Rudd/Gilliard created was the people smuggling business. Not sure if any of the players paid any tax to the ATO. Nor if any of the players paid anything but bribes to the Indonesians... From news today, it appears likely that the now creaky RAN ships worn out supporting the P. Smuggling Enterprises will have ample opportunity to deploy The Ruddster. Perhaps the only piece of manufacturing (besides spin) encouraged under Labor: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/body-recovery-equipment-will-spare-sailors/story-fn59niix-1226694527956#

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    8. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Paul Felix

      This is a serious policy issue that both sides of politics have turned into a miserable race to the bottom. Now that the election's over please let those concerned with the legal and humanitarian issues start to pressure the major parties to set up discussions both in OZ and with our regional neighbours with the aim of establishing and ethical and effective policy on asylum seekers.

      This is a challenge for whoever gets to be the new leader of the ALP as well as for the Coalition.

      The game of political tactics should be put aside , The politics of both Coalition and the most recent Labor version of "boats" should be dumped. It would be wholly ironic if the person who so dramatically upped the temperature on this issue - "stop the Boats" Abbott - were to be the leader who initiated a far better approach once he sees that his present efforts can't succeed.

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    9. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to wilma western

      Hold onto that line of thinking Wilma, and be prepared for a massive mea culpa...

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  2. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Nobody ought to be kidding themselves that Labor have turned what was a difficult situation under control into a horrendous one in Rudd opening the flood gates and their PNG and Nauru resettlement plans are so full of holes that they are as leaky as what some people smugglers boats are.

    Bowen is merely playing politics and that quite ironic coming from someone who supported Rudd, he being the one we can blame for having given Australia what we have to deal with now.
    Whereas Rudd was prepared…

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    1. Paul Felix

      Builder

      In reply to Greg North

      I work as a builder, you know cutting timber, hanging doors, building houses etc. I am not retired, am a dropped out professional, and I work with plasterers, electricians, painters. I deal with suppliers, home owners and small company operators.
      This may come as a surprise, but most people I come across don't share the languid view that there is no staggering level of hypocrisy at play here.
      They also do not share the fantasy that this is operationally necessary, they see it for what is it, secrecy…

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Given your ideological leaning Paul and likely comments around anywhere, I am so sorry for those within earshot and for yourself seeing as it was to no avail with how many more people have just registered their thoughts about the ALP and Rudd.

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  3. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    So let me get this straight.

    You think that there are good reasons why the Government should be secretive about using the military to board foreign flagged vessels in international waters and forcing the crew to change course? Yeah - I bet the Government would like to be secretive about that.

    The rest of us probably want to know when our Government is doing something like that - also for good reason.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Most of the rest of us did vote for this government just less than two weeks ago Mike, the mess of Labor and Rudd on such display we all knew there is a lot to fix up.
      Most of us also recognise that these so called foreign flagged vessels might not even be flying a flag and in that they have left the foreign country illegally, we would hope the foreign country would show some responsibility in wanting those vessels returned to where justice of their country should apply.
      That not being the case, most of us are likely very happy with whatever the government needs to have done within reason.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      I don't give a flying f*ck who people voted for Greg.

      Here's the thing about democracies and the rule of law. Governments have to obey the law, just like the rest of us. So your last point is the key one - the actions outlined in the article are neither within reason or the law. And I - and you - should know when my government is breaking the law.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I am not too interested in what you give Mike and if you have a read of
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-26/government-turn-back-boat-policy/4979898 and http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-27/q-and-a-abbott-turn-back-boats-policy/4982928 you can do your own giving on just how not so straightforward the situation is.
      Certainly, Indonesia needs to step up to the plate and organise themselves a bit better to make preventive efforts as well as rescues to avoid more disasters as described @ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-27/asylum-seekers-drown-as-boat-capsizes-off-java/4986422
      If a boat is at sea and calls to be rescued and are closer to where they came from, regardless of the legality of their leaving, it is perfectly reasonable and no doubt very legal that they be returned to where they did come from.
      As you can see from the first article, it is perfectly legal to intercept a boat arriving into Australian waters.

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    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      "....I am not too interested in what you give Mike..."

      Then we are of one mind Greg.

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Actually, to be correct Mike it should have been not too interested in what you don't give and by the numbers commenting , I suspect there're a lot more likewise and who could like a lot of the populations of Perth and Melbourne be more attuned to what is happening at the MCG today.

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    6. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      You may be right about that Greg.

      Bu then, I don't care about what happens at the MCG today either. I will wait for next weekend.

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  4. Jean Bou

    Historian

    Bowen, may have been shooting from the hip, but the arguments for operational security in this matter are thin and, as far as I can see, much narrower than the government would assert. Undoubtedly there is a requirement for security after a boat is detected and before it is intercepted, and after that there may be some requirement for security about the actual techniques used in intercepting and turning around the boats, but beyond that the arguments about the need for secrecy seem non-existent.

    Withholding the information that a boat has been intercepted and turned around would have no operational effect whatsoever.

    So aspects of the process may genuinely need to be kept quiet, but the fact that the event happened does not. And if you read Bowen's words, it is that latter aspect that he is talking about.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Jean Bou

      You are right Jean and the government has elected to have information updates made on a weekly basis.
      Bowen is not talking about after the event totally, though if he had to defend what he says, he has been rather ambiguous.
      " There is absolutely no operational reason for the new minister of immigration not to be up front with the Australian people when a boat arrives and when a turn-back is attempted. "
      Most people would associate " being up front when...." with revealing something when it is occurring and if he is happy for it to be done via a weekly release then that is what is proposed and has already happened.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Sean Manning

      Being led by the Indonesians and would be second placer folded in being totally unfit for the event.
      Stayers are needed but not those intending to sneak in the back door nor overstayers.

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    2. Sean Manning

      Physicist

      In reply to Greg North

      I think the 'sneaking' is a myth. A boat is just another form of transportation.

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  5. Michael Sheehan

    Geographer at Analyst

    Secrecy is completely impossible. It is also a disgrace in any proper democracy. Yes, it is un-Australian. While holding a press conference to announce every single boat arrival is unnecessary, secrecy is unacceptable; and unobtainable.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Total secrecy is impossible as the article portrays Michael though there will always be some aspects of many events associated with our border security that do not need to be broadcast 24/7.
      That is all that is happening and you agree in your own words.

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    2. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, yes I suppose that is what I am basically saying. But I'd interpret a policy of 'secrecy' to be much more proactive and conscious than merely not feeling obliged to hold a press conference every time a boat appears on the horizon.

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg I doubt you would be so sanguine had Labor taken the approach of not announcing boat arrivals as they happened.

      Seems to be the Coalition is trying to evade accountability for boat arrivals by reducing the frequency of reporting.

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      I do not know that Labor were reporting all the time as it happened and information to the public was largely coming through media reports with the exception of cases of where boats were sinking, turningover etc. with loss of life.
      A regular reporting on a weekly basis is certainly a step forward for it allows the people who have the responsibility for managing operations to concentrate on that task without their focus being overly diverted by media wishes for 24/7 which can lead to confusion at times.
      The regular reporting oozes accountability more so than the previous adhoc approach.

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    5. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      I'm sure that Lieutenant General Campbell would be pleased to learn that his attention span and that of his press officer were so collectively short they could be easily distracted and confused by a few press requests.
      Or was it Scott Morrison to whom you were referring. That would be believeable

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    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      You do seem to be delving for the ridiculous more and more Ken.

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    7. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      Your words not mine. You thow them out and they're going to be shot down.

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    8. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      I decide to expand a little.
      You get shot down because you insist on putting up ridiculous arguments to support untenable positions.
      Take this beauty:
      "it allows the people who have the responsibility for managing operations to concentrate on that task without their focus being overly diverted by media wishes for 24/7 which can lead to confusion at times."
      Do you seriuosly believe that Lieutenant Generals take any time out at all to answer press enquiries and wishes. They have three layers of subordinates to do that. They might appear to the press every Pancake Day for form's sake.
      No. All you did was to reach for the nearest platitude at hand and didn't appreciate how stupid it sounded. It got the treatment it deserved - muffled laughter.


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    9. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Ken, with all your assumptions it is not muffled laughter and not just the side bursting either.
      With all that assumptuousness, you could do well to have your feet and fuses checked out.

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  6. Ken Alderton

    PhD student, former CEO

    Whoops hang on a minute.
    The author claims that there are "operational reasons for information related to stopping the boats not being made public" He further says that th reason is because "The SF is the element of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) that will be used in enforcing a strong “turn around” policy." He is being a little coy, he means SAS.
    When was the decison made to utilise the SAS in this role? Who made the decision?
    It would not have been the military.The Australian Navy have…

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    1. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Good questions, Ken. I thought the article's tone of SF running the 'boat people' issue was a bit off.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      You obviously aren't on the memo distribution list Ken, sad that and your lack of history is showing for the SAS was used as far back as with the Tampa.
      Now whether the SAS have continued to be used or will or whether they have formed a marine SF unit is something that will no doubt be determined within the new operational command structure and what you might expect to be informed about is quite irrelevant.
      I certainly do not think they would put too much weight on your thoughts or even Chris Bowen being surprised for he is no longer involved or have you missed that too!

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    3. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      As I recall the Tampa was a bl..dy big ship and there were 438 rescused people on board who were a bit antsy. That was the only time the SAS was used .
      Are you telling me that Morrison is now expecting the asylum seekers to arrive in lots of 438 in ships the size of the Tampa. The hire cost is going to be pretty steep. As I recall they charge about US$40,000 per day or part thereof for a vessel that size.
      In any case the author didn't say it is "something that will no doubt be determined within the new operational command" i.e. in the future but that it had already been decided. 30-love, your serve.

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    4. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      Proper reaction, Rescue at sea. Obligation of all seafarers.They sought the prior permission of the Indonesians against the express wishes of J. Bishop.
      I didn't see any SAS uniforms.Looks like they didn't get the memo either. Typical Navy slipshod communcations. You can only trust the Army.

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      I am not sure what you are on about Ken for Julie Bishop is not directly involved with the border protection operation and why would you expect to see SAS uniforms.
      As for communication, all seems to have gone well enough.

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    6. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      Wasn't it Ms Bishop that declared for all the world to hear that Australia was not ''seeking Indonesia's permission … we're seeking their understanding''. As Foreign Minister, I just thought she would naturally have some say in how we related to the Indonesians. But you may be righ,t maybe she was left of the distribution list too.
      But if the secrecy plan has been in operation since last Monday then surely that means the plan to have SAS board boats is also in operation.

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      I try not to jump to making assumptions Ken but if you want to I can imagine that being fine with you.

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    8. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      I have always been wondering when somebody did the numbers and bought a real ship on the way to the wrecking yard and filled it with refugees.
      $40 000 a day? Chicken feed if you fill it with 2000 people at $10 000 a head. That comes to a tidy $20 000 000. If you were smart you could also utilise fast runabouts to load and unload passengers from outside territorial waters.

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    9. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Fair enough Ken. I too noticed that Tony preferred to handball this to the army - maybe he remembered criticisms of the "turn back the boats" stuff from the navy.

      But let's not get bogged down in split hairs bickering that just diverts from the real and vital issue - we need a new bipartisan approach on this that is more humane, legal and done in cooperation with our neighbouring countries . Like the leaked Indonesian memo pointed out Aus should stick by the undertakings to deal with this under the Bali process etc.just for a start.

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    10. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to wilma western

      With all due respect, when you stop "splitting hairs" you have lost the real battle.
      This is the issue. The volumes of propaganda and misinformation that has been let slide until it becomes the "fact" and wins elections.

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  7. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Well so much for Attachatta or whatever that Indonesian bloke's name in NY is and his views about Australia breaching Indonesian sovereignity.
    When it comes down to doing what seems most reasonable, rescue in Indonesian waters and Australians said come and get them.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-27/navy-transfers-asylum-seekers-to-indonesia/4985674
    Indonesia is pathetic if they first reckon they cannot rescue people close enough to them and a good tactic by Australia in future would be just to say, well you're closer than us so send out another fishing boat.

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    1. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      Your attitude to the little brown people of the north is clearly on show.
      I'm sure they have as little regard for you opinon as I have.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      You seem to have attitudes yourself Ken using descriptions such as the little brown people of the north, they being Indonesians if you are having trouble with absorbing that.
      As for my attitude, it'd not matter whether they were New Zealanders or Chinese for if they are not prepared to pull their weight in or near their own country, there is something of a problem.
      Your continue harping on about what the Australian government might do etc. sounds like a real patriotic attitude.

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    3. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Greg North

      Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel
      Samuel Johnson 1774

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  8. Philip Dowling

    IT teacher

    Chris Bowen, when minister, was certainly not upfront about the location of boats that were "intercepted". Some were pretty well in sight of Indonesian land. Many should have been handled by Basarnas, but the Indonesians ignored their responsibility.
    Many refugees who committed major criminal acts were given permanent visas.

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    1. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      "Many refugees who committed major criminal acts were given permanent visas."

      Many? Where did this information come from?

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    2. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      I went to your link which is a database titled "Australian immigration detention centres: every incident mapped" It covers the period October 2009 to 2011
      I looked at the graphic - no rapes, a small number of seriuos assaults.
      I took advantage of a link that gave more detail. This is what I found:
      51 allegations of assaults. Note allegations
      10 allegations of sexual assault, half by men
      1 allegation of rape (by a man)
      Only one detailed report on sexual assault "client had touched me inappropriately…

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    3. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Yep Phillip, of course!
      Labor is especially susceptible to this sort of decision making.
      One only has to google 'uncovered meat' for another example.
      All deals to and fro one colony or another.
      Never heard of 'national interest' - a laughable concept compared with 'branch stacking'.
      As for cultural baggage - check this:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24021573

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  9. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Did 22 people drown in a recent 'boat' issue?

    Fact: Tony Abbott avoids answering the questions.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      At least it seems you are aware that Lee that neither Rudd or Gillard are no longer PM and whilst they may have nurtured the door stopper 24/7 media etc., you might have missed that the new government has a different MO.
      I would not expect badgering newshounds to get a comment on everything by politicians, there having been many overseas deaths daily in most weeks these days.
      Now if you want to question what Indonesia ought to be doing, you could seek out an Indonesian forum.

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    2. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      So Lee, give us a laugh. Are you blaming the new govt for the Rudd/Gillard/Labor party inspired people smuggling death business?

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    3. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      An Indonesian boat with an Indonesian crew in Indonesian waters and the wreckage is on an Indonesian beach.
      Australian problem?
      What about Indonesia's precious sovereignty?
      Or, Lee, is there an underlying racism here? Only a Western nation can deal with boats in trouble. Ever heard of Basarnas?
      Indonesia has a larger navy than Australia has.

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    4. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      You should read Scott Morrisons statement before you comment.
      It was an Australian problem because the Australain authorities told BASARNAS that they would handle it without their invovlement.
      Morrisson specifically said that the [Australian] Rescue Co-ordination Centre notified the Indonesian authorities that they were coordinating the sea search and rescue.
      This has become the norm for rescues at sea south of Java. Australian authorities just tell the Indonesian people "we'll handle it, you keep out of the way"
      The vessel was not in Indonesian waters when it got into trouble but it would not have mattered. The law of the sea says that in a search and rescue operation the nearest vessels provide assistance.

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    5. John Regan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Do you actually believe what Morrison says? I am afraid the last 12 months have taught me that he is not truthful so the actual story is probably quite different and certainly would be shaped to fit his and the Abbott truth. As far as I am concerned this government now has a record for the deaths of asylum seekers which I am sure will continue to rise.

      It is concerning that this government is using the armed services in this manner as. T is quite possible now that our troops that have fought and killed in Afghanistan will now be asked to bully the women and children of people they have been protecting in the past. It is ironic that we are involved in the killing and destruction that is causing these refugees to attempt these journeys then we are involved in not rescuing their women and children.

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    6. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to John Regan

      John Regan, you have left the reservation entirely.
      The Labor/Greens dismantling of Howard/Ruddock's border laws has created this industry of corruption, crime and people smuggling.
      It has been left to Morrison and co to somehow stuff the genie back into its bottle - despite the traitorous efforts of so many activists in Australia.
      The return of two boats to Indonesia has been left largely uncommented upon on these pages.
      The immediated investigation of family members for the crime of people smuggling needs to be undertaken.
      Phone calls, text messaging records, financial transactions need an immediate investigation.
      Anyone who has facilitated the drowning of children needs jailing and or immediate repatriation. Even if they are related.

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    7. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Frank Moore

      I note that it was just before the election that AFP finally got around to making some arrests of people smugglers in Australia.
      Perhaps they realised that the wind was about to change.
      It was curious that captain Emad and co had been discovered by a TV crew but the Feds couldn't find the story.
      A lot of the money for the people smugglers would seem to originate from Australia. It is much cheaper, quicker and easier for many to get relatives in than to go through the official processes as many would know.

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    8. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Absolutely correct Phillip.
      And once ensconced in OZ, many of them feel so under threat of 'persecution' that they take holidays back to that vicious nasty place they fled, to be congratulated by all and sundry for pulling off this ruse. (Promoting smuggling in the process)
      In fact, they often send THEIR CHILDREN, unaccompanied, back home for proper RELIGIOUS training.
      Then they vote. Most often for the Party in charge during their very expensive (for the taxpayer) arrival.
      Branch Stacking at 22 million dollars per boat.

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    9. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Frank Moore

      I don't wonder that you favour Andrew Bolt. I wondered who was going to drag him into the debate.
      Where did all this beaut info. come from?

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    10. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Well Ken, you did watch The Bolt Report - didn't you?
      I read everything. Since you don't, perhaps you should google it and you may find microscopic treatments of this development from 'sources' you alone can trust. Like SBS?
      The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said an Australian Customs ship had also rescued a second boatload of 31 asylum-seekers and returned them to Indonesia.
      From: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/09/27/fears-30-asylum-seekers-still-missing
      There are others Ken. Just make sure you have a magnifying glass handy, as taxpayer funded Left Wing Propaganda Outfits such as ABC and SBS tend to push uncomfortable copy as far south as they can. In the Hope no doubt that Ken - amongst many others will miss it. Too bad Ken turns his nose up against reading/viewing Bolt. If he didn't, he'd know things he might miss via his dependency on said propaganda outfits.

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    11. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Frank Moore

      What have boats sinking in Indonesia (your link) got to do with the comments that started;
      "And once ensconced in OZ, many of them feel so under threat of 'persecution' that they take holidays back to that vicious nasty place they fled...,etc,etc"
      If Andrew Bolt said it then you definitely want to go back and ask him where he got it .
      You bet I turn my nose up at Andrew Bolt and I'm proud of it. I like to have evidence with my media commentary.

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    12. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      No idea where you conflated any other statements other than the returns to indonesia - a nice safe haven to which most arrived as tourists - with Bolt.
      Had you watched the Bolt report you could have seen the evidence.
      As to the other statements, careful viewing, listening and reading of statements by and about asylum seekers have mentioned the above, quite unconsciously, and in passing.
      Naturally, did our fearless reporters point or flesh out the story from there, pointing to why flee, when you've gone back as a tourist? Of course not.
      They too believe in the theory of only reading, seeing and viewing - let alone thinking - what the big socialist themes are.

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    13. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Your comments don't make sense.
      The links you provided from SBS talks about boats sinking and starts "The death toll from the sinking of an asylum-seeker boat en route to Australia could surpass 50...."
      The rest of your comment is about how evil asylum seekers are and starts
      "And once ensconced in OZ, many of them feel so under threat of 'persecution' that they take holidays back to that vicious nasty place they fled...,etc,etc"
      I asked how the two related to each other and you respond by saying that I "conflated" some mysteriuos statements and the for me to carefull view and read some unknown reports.
      You need to explainn it all to me again, slowly,step by step

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    14. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      And Phillip, when snippets are in fact 'reported' one is amazed that such factoids slip through the net of censorship controlling our news and news reporting. However, one is never surprised that such snippets are never 'themed' by the media - especially the ABC - when they have the money, resources and time to flesh out and quantify the complete picture.
      (As they would like to do with stories in keeping with Their politics - eg boat arrivals)
      Bias by omission, bias via story selection at play.
      Why such punters as poor ol Ken miss so much... Not his fault really....

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    15. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      You're joking aren't you. You seriously believe that these two stories support your assertions. Did you even read them? Samples

      HERSE HILOLE: Well, I will not mention specific group now, but as you know in Australia we have two types of Islamic extremists. So the first group is those who promote Islamic, what is called political Islam, and the second group is those who promote Islamic jihad.
      ALISON CALDWELL: What sort of evidence do you have that this is happening?
      HERSE HILOLE: Because of…

      Read more
    16. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      And from the Tampa, this snippet:
      EVERY night [name] Skypes his Afghani fiancee. He fell in love with her four years ago on a return visit to his home town.
      He returned this year for three weeks and proposed. He pulls out his smart phone and swipes proudly through photographs of his exotic wife-to-be.

      So, so terrified, lets go back for a return visit...

      How the details get in the way of 'the story'

      Note the multiplicity of visits implied:
      But when he has visited Afghanistan, people ask him whether the ordeal was worth it.

      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/the-tampa-children-reflect-on-their-rescue-12-years-on/story-fni0fiyv-1226708300676

      Poor ol Ken...

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    17. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Frank Moore

      You're getting a bit confused.
      Your mate just quoted the ABC as a reliable source of your "snippets"
      Well are they on the side of your angels or they are they part of the world wide consipracy throwing out "the net of censorship controlling our news and news reporting."?
      No wonder the rest of us miss out. We don't have your fine tuned sense of who is part of the conpiracy and who is not.

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    18. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Yes I have seen this story before.
      But you have selectively quoted.
      Why didn't you quote the answers to these questions
      What did [name]'s father say about the reasons they left Afganistan and whether it was a good decision? How old was [name] when he left? Do people of his age ever know the reasons for their parents decisions?
      Did he go back as an Afghan citizen or with the protection of money and the NZ Embassy?
      Did he stay in Afganistan with his fiance?
      And finally why didn't you quote the passage that was the core of the story, namely
      "Theirs are typical migrant stories. The parents settled and worked hard, they learned trades, they set up businesses. And the children went to school, hit the books and grew up, like the rest of us. They are university students, engineers, nurses. One is an airline pilot. They are patriotic Kiwis grateful for their new lives.
      They are the children Australia didn't want."
      Sprung again.

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    19. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      DIMIA could provide the statistics.
      But under Labor they never did.

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    20. Ken Alderton

      PhD student, former CEO

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Sorry I cannot find anywhere here a clue to what statistics you are referring to.
      You realise that DMIA is the Howard era designation for DIAC and their last Minisiter was Amanda Vanstone
      I can read your SMH link I don't have a subscription.

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    21. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      Clear your cookies and you can read it.

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    22. Tamara McGuigan

      Student

      In reply to John Regan

      I too find this concerning John, we have seen a myriad of lies and misconceptions in the last 12 months, the election campaign being quite the highlight. Even looking at the swift change in Tony Abbott's language and priorities whilst in Indonesia, begs the question of his loyalty to his own policy strategies.

      As you point out, quite ironic, the way in which our defence was sent to protect these people now we oppose them. Being a defence operation I shudder to imagine the treatment of the individuals on the boat. I suppose though that is information that we shall never be privy to. I feel that many members of the public find security in this, out of sight, out of mind.

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  10. Alan Kennedy

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    I sometimes think politicians always take us all for mugs. I seriously question the operational reasoning for secrecy in tackling unarmed refugees in leaky boats. It is not as if the refugees will be fighting the armed services. More likely welcoming them.

    If turned back then the refugees themselves will inform the people smugglers of the armed services tactics. Theer goes the secrecy.

    If they manage to get to a detention centre they will be in a position to inform the people smugglers of the armed services tactics. There goes the secrecy again.

    It suits the government, not the armed services, to have this veil of secrecy, like a magician waving his cloak, "now you see it, now you don't."

    It is all built on an illusion that the government is doing something.

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Alan Kennedy

      It is. and far more rapidly than even the most pessimistic of us every anticipated!

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    2. Pamela H.

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Alan Kennedy

      Exactly Alan. 'An illusion that the government is doing something'. The Ultra-cons have always been a Do-nothing government. This mantle of secrecy is designed so that in the long term the whole 'boat people' issue will pass from the short memories of the voting masses, then Friar Abbott can say 'See I stopped the boats'. However no one will know the actual number of refugees that will have arrived under his governance (for want of a better word).

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    3. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Alan Kennedy

      They are not being secret about anything.
      They are controlling the info flow to a time/place of their choosing.
      And viewers of The Bolt Report would know that our Navy, under a coalition government, far from 'doing nothing' as Pamela opines, has, for the first time since Ruddock, turned back two boat loads of 'rescued' illegal immigrants to Indonesia. Saving us, the long suffering taxpayer, some 44 million dollars in the process. (22 million being the cost per boat of this Labor/Greens/ABC folly)

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  11. Pamela H.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Friar Abbott wants to carry out all their bumbling Mr Bean methods under the cloak of invisibility. Including Live Trade in animals to barbaric countries to be hacked to death while still conscious; in homage to their own invisible god. Aside from the increased pay packet, he is yet to discover what it really means to run a country, instead of booing and hissing from the opposition seat.

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    1. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Pamela H.

      If alcohol was generously imbibed I could forgive your comments.
      Unfortunately I fear that this is not the case.
      Homeopathy, crystals, anti-fluoridation, incense, anti-immunisation seem to be your beliefs.

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  12. John Q Citizen, Aussie

    Administrator

    Interestingly the genial tony stays quiet, or as the Navy would say "rig for silent running".
    So in place of 'official liberal party" sound bites and comment we have Greg, who bravely goes into battle to save his party from, well from anyone who holds a view counter to his own and his beloved genial tony, or perhaps that should be wooden tony.
    We can only await the latest non-official briefing from Jakarta.

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  13. Tamara McGuigan

    Student

    It's all just very clever politics really. The liberal party develop a policy which allows them to withhold information in the interests of defence security. Through clever marketing and smart politics the liberal government have further developed a negative rhetoric surrounding asylum seekers; promoting suspicion and mistrust, Abbott has now capitalized on this fear promising safety and security, selling their policy as the answer to maintain our national security.
    The main objective; to be seen to take a hard line approach to asylum seekers. The question at hand is if the people of Australia were to be exposed to the real economic and social cost of this operation would it still receive the same support?

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