In “Australia crosses a thin blue line of credibility “(AFR 24th January 2014) Laura Tingle poses the question, “ Is our Navy so utterly incompetent that it keeps accidentally going into someone else’s sovereign waters?. “
The government when in opposition emphatically stated sovereign borders would always be respected and that any boat returns would only be carried out in full co-operation with the local authorities. The navy confirmed it would take their authority from the government to operationally implement such a policy.
In the midst of these revelations of the Australian Navies repeated unauthorised entries into someone else’s sovereign waters it must have become apparent a less obvious presence was now necessary. Hence we have the incident of captured boat people escorted back to Indonesia in a modern navy supplied and operated life craft to further exasperate relations with our neighbour.
But as we already have a Cooperation Agreement between respective country agencies in preventing trafficking in people, surely it is still not too late to engage in future cooperative joint naval exercises and repair the relationship. This will add to costs as Indonesia cannot be expected to bear the additional impost but it is justified as a more rational future long term solution.
It is a hollow victory to achieve the result of no boat arrival in the last 30 days if this is at the expense of a further deterioration in relations with one of our most important neighbours. For Further reading http://www.afr.com/p/national/jakarta_ready_for_clash_over_border_QLab8tN4m2fsrZe5CgBUZK