I guess I get disheartened by some of the apparent blindness that goes on.
Indonesia’s vice-president has likened allegations Australia paid people smuggling crews to “bribery”, questioning the country’s ethics over claims officials paid $US 5,000 each to crew members of a people smuggling boat to return 65 asylum seekers to Indonesia.
“Bribing is of course not according with the ethics of international relationships,” vice-president Jusuf Kalla said.
Indonesia has demanded an explanation, with foreign minister Retno Marsudi saying in a statement that it was “actually not so hard for Australia to answer the question” and accusing it of “deflecting the issue”.
I don’t think I am ready for a lecture on ethics from Indonesia. They have a very disappointing track record and I think their approach in West Papua is just one example. 20 years for Marijuana and 12 years for culpable first degree murder. Go figure.
“We will do whatever is necessary within the law, consistent with our standards as a decent and humane society, to stop the boats because… that’s the moral thing to do.
“The only thing that really counts is: have we stopped the boats? And the answer is a resounding yes.”
Mr Abbott and members of his Cabinet have repeatedly refused to deny the allegations.
Even though this sounds like a no comment, it has the real sound of ‘what if we did’. No government gets to make up the ethical standards to suit themselves. Paying people smugglers is at best dodgy, and certainly dubious. Failing to provide a direct answer suggest that there is something to hide. My sister went the a school (for a while) with the motto esto sol testus – ‘let the sun be your witness’.
However it seems that the doubtful dodge does not end there.
The ABC asked if Labor could rule out the possibility that ASIS made payments to people smugglers, on the water or on land, at any time during the Rudd-Gillard years.
A spokeswoman for shadow immigration minister Richard Marles responded that: “It’s unlawful for the Government or the Opposition to divulge security or intelligence information”.
And Abbott again
When asked whether it was legal for ASIS to pay asylum boat crews, Mr Abbott said he was “absolutely confident that at all times Australian agencies having acted within the law”.
And Shorten again
Labor’s hypocrisy has been revealed, really, because when Labor and Bill Shorten were asked to rule out that any such payments were made under the period of the Rudd and Gillard Governments, what was the answer by Mr Shorten?” Mr Cormann said.
“That they don’t comment on intelligence and security matters.”
– – – o – – – O – – – o – – –
It seems that there is not a straight answer among them. You have to love open and transparent government. I would like to think that the truth will come out, however I suspect that they will all conspire to keep us in the dark.