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Australian Current Affairs

Australian government fears conflict with Indonesia under opposition asylum policy


Indonesia WarshipsAustralia’s Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has called on Kevin Rudd to refrain from “desperate and reckless” attempts to draw Indonesia into the domestic political argument over asylum seekers when he visits later this week.

Mr Rudd, who is this week due to meet Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on Friday warned of “some sort of conflict” between the two countries if Mr Abbott as prime minister pursued his turn-back-the-boats policy.

Indonesian officials and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa have refused to comment on the Rudd claim but the PM yesterday stood by “everything I have said”.

Mr Morrison, who returned to Australia this morning after two days of talks with officials in Jakarta, said it would be an abuse of the relationship if Mr Rudd again sought to raise the conflict claim during his Indonesian visit.

“It’s important the Prime Minister doesn’t seek, as he already has done, to try to draw Indonesia into the politics of Australia,” Mr Morrison said

The Liberal frontbencher said his talks with Indonesian, Australian and international refugee agency officials in Jakarta were to fine tune Opposition policy on asylum seekers and people smuggling so that Tony Abbott’s team could “hit the ground running” after the election.

He foreshadowed an Abbott government would commit major increase in resources to cooperative efforts with the Indonesians to disrupt people smuggling activities before boats left for Australian waters.

The Australian Federal Police, Immigration and Customs and Border Protection agencies are already engaged in cooperation programs with their Indonesian counterparts and Mr Morrison said those would be “leveraged and up-scaled” by a Coalition government.

He declined to disclose details, saying they were the subject of final policy discussions with Mr Abbott.

On turning back boats, Mr Morrison said he reiterated to the Indonesians the Opposition had no plans to violate any country’s territorial sovereignty.

An Abbott government would be committed to protecting Indonesia’s borders from asylum seeker flows as well as Australia’s.

Source: The Australian – Rudd ‘desperate and reckless’ on asylum boats, says opposition spokesman Scott Morrison
 
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