Australia’s already prickly relationship with Indonesia is only worsening. In the face of damaging allegations that Australian officials paid money to people-smugglers the government has sought a scapegoat.

Pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister to address the claims. Instead, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said in The Australian newspaper that is Indonesia who is to blame for the situation for not securing their borders.

Indonesia (as expected) is furious. They feel shame that their country is so poorly governed people would risk their lives to leave it. Moreover, they chafe at having the situation bandied around on the world stage and being told by Australia what to do about it.

The Indonesian government have launched their own investigation.

But it was Julie Bishop who struck the first blow for the government: “The best way for Indonesia to resolve any concerns it has about (Australia’s) Operation Sovereign Borders is for Indonesia to enforce sovereignty over its borders,” she said in The Australian.

“Operation Sovereign Borders is necessary because Indonesian boats with Indonesian crews are leaving Indonesia with the express intention of breaching our sovereignty, facilitated by illegal people-smuggling syndicates.”

Should the claims that six people-smugglers were paid $5000 each to return their human cargo be proven the government will have given de facto consent to the practise; and people-smuggling then becomes merely a bidding war. Moreover, the government will have used taxpayer funds in ways of questionable legality, but without the consent of the constituency.

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