After a stand-off with Indonesia over an asylum boat, which reinforced the complexity of Australia’s relationship with the country, Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised that the government will not yield to people smugglers. In an apparent misinterpretation of the international law of the sea, the Prime Minister claimed that Jakarta should take responsibility for asylum seekers rescued by Australian authorities in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone. Despite reports that Indonesia accepted two asylum seeker boats in this situation, the country may seek to limit the size of its search and rescue area.
At this year’s CHOGM conference, Mr. Abbott announced that Australia will give Sri Lanka two retired navy patrol boats to assist with regulating people smuggling activity.
Last week, an asylum seeker boat carrying 163 passengers was confirmed to have arrived in Darwin. Federal Opposition frontbencher, Tony Burke, called for the government to release more information about boat arrivals.
Workers in offshore detention centres reported that conditions have worsened for asylum seekers as a direct result of the change of government. In response to reports that a female asylum seeker in Brisbane was separated from her new-born baby overnight, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that it was “common practice” for this to occur.
The account of two journalists who attempted to experience the asylum seeker boat journey to Australia was published in the New York Times magazine.