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Crikey says: Danger on the high seas as Abbott meets SBY

Could Obama’s climate sell work here? Victoria’s parliamentary crisis explained. Text of tonight’s ABC apology to Chris Kenny. ASIC to scale back surveillance. Strong GDP a boon for business. Kerry Stokes and Lachlan Murdoch do lunch in Sydney. And Australia a country for old men?

When Tony Abbott meets with the Indonesian President today, he’d better be ready for a frank discussion.

It’s no secret that the relationship has been strained in the wake of last year’s phone-tapping scandal, but Indonesia’s Foreign Minister has recently made further extraordinary allegations about Australia’s actions under Operation Sovereign Borders.

In an interview with SBS TV last month, Marty Natalegawa claimed that Australian navy personnel have not once picked up the phone to give a heads-up to their Indonesian counterparts when they have towed refugee boats back towards Indonesia. Controversy erupted earlier this year over revelations that the navy had made several incursions into Indonesian waters, and Australia apologised at the time.

“We were often somewhat caught by surprise, to be honest,” Natalegawa said. “This is certainly not something that we really … appreciate.” Not appreciated, and not particularly wise, given the Indonesian armed forces have not been known for their restraint.

Warning that the situation on the high seas could easily “get out of hand”, the Foreign Minister called for an end to the communication stand-off. Today’s leaders’ meeting is the first indication that Abbott is willing to take a step back from his aggressive posturing on border security and start a conversation.

5
  • 1
    graybul
    Posted Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Is the Minister/Australian Navy non-communication with Indonesian Authorities less about keeping them uninformed about “tow-backs” . . and more about ensuring the Australian Public has absolutely no knowledge/information about their own Government actions via Indonesian FREE Media??

  • 2
    BRUCE PIKE
    Posted Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I thought the spying was in 2009

  • 3
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    BRUCE - I read/heard somewhere that the actual spying on Indonesian hierarchy began shortly after the 9/11 attack. I think it may have come out via Wikileaks or Snowden, but none of the security people here want to talk about it. Funny thing that!
    IMHO it is not correct to say that “the spying was in 2009”, so therefore it is all Labor’s fault. There is more to it than that.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    With an election looming, they wouldn’t be sinking so low as to be “using Abbott for political purposes”?
    What a low act? Whatever could they be thinking?
    Who’d have given them such an idea?

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    He’s not going to East Timor on the way, is he?

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