Schapelle and fishermen

Today’s Age leads with the story of the impending release of Schapelle Corby.

Irrespective of what one might think of the case, I believe that most fair-minded people would agree that eight years for smuggling 4.2 kilograms of cannabis into Indonesia is a penalty paid.

Of particular interest to myself is the following:

Relations between Australia and Indonesia have improved with a series of high-level visits and recent suggestions by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa that a prisoner-exchange program could be established between Australia and Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Justice Minister has also linked Corby’s case with dozens of its underage citizens in Australian detention for crewing people-smuggling vessels. Several Indonesian youths have been released in recent weeks.

The above is something which former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had been working hard to achieve. The background is that Australia has requested clemancy for Australian citizens imprisoned in Indonesia, with the response from Indonesia being that why should they; that Australia housed many Indonesian youths on people smuggling convictions.

Indonesia considered this somewhat hypocritical of Australia, to demand fairer treatment of our citizens whilst denying fairer treatment of under-age people smugglers.

This has been highly political with the Gillard government expecting a public backlash for “being soft on” people smugglers.

I therefore thought it an opportune moment to repost an article I wrote last year:

People smuggler fishermen

Federal authorities, due to mandatory sentencing routinely charge impoverished Indonesian crewmen who crew boats to Australia with offences as people smugglers

– these carry mandatory jail terms of up to 20 years.

In what human rights lawyers consider to be an injustice, more than 150 crewmen face charges that carry penalties as harsh as for murder.

Hence a major reason why the Federal Opposition’s claim that the Labor government is “encouraging” people smuggling, is wrong. “Encouragement” does not equate with mandatory jail sentences of up to 20 years and their livelihood, their fishing boat impounded and destroyed. The minimum sentence for first-time offenders is a five-year jail term with a three-year non-parole period.

Interviews with Indonesian people smugglers have confirmed:

The Indonesian crewmen are usually paid the equivalent of a few hundred dollars in rupiah for steering a boat into Australian waters. They are told Australian authorities will take care of them – even paying them for each day they are detained – before quickly flying them back to Indonesia.

The con is easily sold because for years that was the way Australian authorities treated the crew of illegal Indonesian fishing boats.

And this is still the way that illegal Indonesian fishermen are treated. The main job of the patrol boats out of Cairns and indeed Darwin is not the interception of people smugglers, but illegal fishermen poaching in Australian waters. It is therefore unsurprising that the above illusion has been easy to sell by the people smuggling organisers.

In Indonesia people smuggling laws do not exist, therefore nothing has ever been done to stop embarkations. Some blamed John Howard’s poor relationship with Indonesia as a cause, however Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has likewise been unsuccessful. Indonesia might agree to do “something”, but does nothing.

A recent article provides that there is a legal challenge to the prosecution of people smugglers, this being a test case under the Migration Act.

Legal Aid solicitor Gavin Green has stated that accused people smugglers are arguably entitled to bring asylum seekers here and should be acquitted. ”Under this legislation it is not unlawful to bring people to Australia who have a lawful right of entry.”

That is, should the court finds that the passengers have a lawful right to seek asylum then surely the prosecution must fail. Basically a prima facie act which is illegal becomes lawful should the result be something which is lawful. A comparison might be break and enter. Prima facie this is unlawful, but if the result for example is to rescue someone trapped, then the original act thereby becomes lawful.

There is clearly a lot of money changing hands in Indonesia over the issue of people smuggling with the victims being not only asylum seekers who have a genuine right to seek refugee status in Australia, but the impoverished fishermen/smugglers who received little more than a pittance and yet are facing years in Australian prisons. Ignorance of Australian law is not a plea one might say.

34 comments on “Schapelle and fishermen

  1. From the indomitable Jenny M,

    Now the Fiberals led By the Witch lady, this morning are carrying on It’s a swap for people Smugglers. These bastards are frigging unreal and and stale as Donkeys piss.

  2. On Labor “going easy on people smugglers” and hence Corby having her sentence reduced.

    Abbott was asked, “would the tougher attitude he has towards people smugglers and turning the boats around make it more diffficult for the Bali 9, in their clemency appeals”


    then turn away from journalist

  3. Sue, one thing that Abbott does not like is a reality check.

    The Libs are already in strife with the Indonesians because of comments made by Abbott and J. Bishop. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again..Indonesia has stated categorically and on a number of occasions that they will not accept any returns – that once Australia has these boats, then Indonesia considers them our responsibility.

  4. Abbott’s response is interesting seeing it was his mentor John Howard who pressured the then AFP head to dob in the Bali 9 after an approach to the AFP from the parents of one of the nine.
    The AFP could have arrested the Bali 9 in Australia, so when one or more are executed it is on the heads of John Howard’s Liberal Party.
    Howard is infamous for never even considering or allowing “harm minimisation” as a approach to treatment of drug addiction. Quite a few young Canberrans died when an unusually high purity Heroin batch appeared on the streets.
    I expect Abbott to adopt a similar “Let them die” attitude.

  5. Min. The take out from the whole issue is Rudd and Gillard should not have meddled with a successful border protection program. Gillard should admit her error and put it all back the way she found it.
    The Indonesian fishermen who get paid to skipper the illegal immigrant boats are making a commercial decision.
    Fish in Indonesia and don’t go to jail. Skipper an illegal boat and go to jail.
    Financially the ones who decide to take the trip know they will be sent back eventually and it is probably worth it.
    It’s an Indonesian business model that works really well. It is underwritten by the Australian government.
    Gross income for an illegal boat trip for 80 – 100 people is about $AUD1,500,000. Outgoings are not much. The Australian Government is doing all the marketing. Us Mug Taxpayers are the only ones out of pocket.

  6. Lunalava, I have absolutely no doubts about that. You see the thing about drugs is that these are excellent for a number of reasons, marijuana for chronic pain, heroin for pain relief in terminally ill cancer sufferers.

    I have an interest in this due to the fact that I watched my father die in agony from prostate cancer. Where is the heroin, and why can’t it be administered for the terminally ill. Ans, because it’s illegal.

  7. Tweed and

    Min. The take out from the whole issue is Rudd and Gillard should not have meddled with a successful border protection program.

    Just in case you missed it, there were TWO high court rulings. One which stated that all asylum seekers should have access to the Australian court system. The only reason that Howard’s policy was “successful” was that it denied people natural justice. The High Court has since overturned Howard’s policy.

    The other one of interest to myself is that the High Court stated that The Minister as the guardian of minors cannot do anything to that child’s detriment. Therefore no children in the future can be sent to places such as desert concentration camps – in the future no child can be punished for seeking asylum.

    For the above reason Abbott’s threat to reintroduce TPVs is likely to be defeated when challenged in the High Court is because unaccompanied minors cannot be “punished” this way…see earlier High Court ruling.

  8. “Rudd and Gillard should not have meddled with a successful border protection program”

    Peddling the usual bunkum I see and of course mindlessly regurgitating a Coalition talking point, one that is false and proven to be so.

    I bet my bottom dollar if Abbott goes back to the Howard way and the boats keep coming, as they will, then you and your ilk will be making every excuse under the sun and blaming Labor and courts for it.

    Plus my concern is not the piddling amount of asylum seekers who come by boat the the greater number of people who fly in, many who become illegal immigrants.

    But then again whipping up fear against the defenseless and disenfranchised is a Liberal specialty, and there was no greater proponent of it than Howard.

  9. Mobius, and of course Australia’s major illegal immigrant problem consists of visa overstayers and women who are brought in to work in the prostitution industry.

    But let’s forget about all that and concentrate on boat people who in the vast majority are found to be genuine refugees.

  10. Not only that Min, there is an ABS study I linked to once that shows that the crime rate for asylum seekers who came here by boat and granted asylum is almost non-existent. Makes sense if you think of what they go through to get here, the last thing they are going to do is shit in their new nest.

    On the other hand you don’t have to look far to see the criminal element and gangs who came here through the normal immigration system.

  11. Cu, I hope that this is ok, but I thought to borrow your comment on Media Watch onto my thread..

    This is what the Opposition wants to go back to.

    Labor’s hands are far from clean, but they have to sink a long way to equal the Howard government. A government that has their own interpretation of laws and rights, that they seem to have now,

    Lest we forget.

    The cases of Vivian Alvarez Solon and Cornelia Rau are unhappy addendums to the stories of those souls who are trapped in mandatory detention. As The Age has argued before, mandatory detention is a flawed policy that should be abandoned. Detainees are deprived of basic human rights and held in conditions that threaten their mental health. The Rau and Alvarez Solon cases suggest there may be an unhealthy link between mandatory detention and the department’s failure to treat two confused and vulnerable women with simple kindness.

  12. Mobius, that reminds me of a few stories which were leaked during the Howard years. One particular gentleman, from Iraq I believe was a university professor and an advocate for democracy. While incarcerated by the Suddam regime he lost part of one leg and and one eye due to torture. And what did the Howard government do with him? Locked him up for several years in a desert camp as an “illegal”…of course…

  13. Min, go for it. I think that was one of the worse episodes of the Howard government. I do not recall a apology.

    Noticed that the government lost a couple of votes this afternoon. The sky did not fall in. Abbott was sopped in his tracks.

    Hockey MPI. Telling us how bad off we are and this government is to blame.

    Cannot miss a chance to talk the economy down.

  14. Thank you Cu. Both are very sad cases. I know about the Solon case as she was picked up in the park near the train station in Lismore. It was assumed that she was a illegal alien and a prostitute and was treated accordingly. She had become an Australian citizen in the mid ’80’s..but in those days, the papers were full of stories about Filipino prostitutes.

  15. Once again, innuendo and slurs rule the day. No need for facts. It is a world I do not want. We do not need it.

  16. And I would like to know does her supporters care for other Australian’s locked up in overseas prisons, including one who claims she is part of a group that sends food and other items to these people, but this person is only focusing on Corby?

    Focusing on one person, but of course you are a member of a group that sends food and other items to Australian’s locked up in overseas Prisons?

  17. Good post Min.

    This is such a complex issue. Unfortunately, like many controversial issues it comes down to the poor, the young and desperate being exploited by middlemen and others higher up the ladder.


  18. Sack Kathy, which is what the government is working towards..humane treatment of Australian citizens imprisoned overseas.

    Perhaps in this Corby has a purpose, to bring to the public’s attention that there are Australians imprisoned under circumstances which we would find unacceptable. At least everyone now knows what Kerobokan prison looks like and how prisoners need to bribe guards in order to obtain things such as shampoo and soap.

  19. Guys. If I could draw you a diagram on your site I would. Anyhow. Min, Moby, CU and others (or et al as you like to say). The Australian government is responsible for control our borders, just like any other country. This is not happening. The people who fly in are not a problem. They have passports, we know who they are and when they resurface from life underground we send them home. As a taxpayer the key observation is while they are underground they pay GST, they don’t get subsidised housing, don’t get the dole or any other benefit (I am assuming you guys are with me here and agree they are not entitled and don’t deserve any of these freebies.)
    The ones that come by boats have fallen backwards into the butter. Happy Days. How long has this been going on they must Tweet to their mates. Stupid Australians – unbelievable.Totally supported by the taxpayer. Hang in and get PR. Great model to discourage people not to jump on an Indonesian boat. … Not.
    FFS guys take off the Rose Coloured Glasses and get with the real world. We have enough Australian Born Passengers (I suspect plenty who sit in the Cafe…) we don’t need to top up.

  20. And this man calls others delusional. And Tweed you can draw on this site. Create the graphic elsewhere and inbed it here.

    What a condscending person you are and you call others names. Also not very original, all the usual right wing nonsense is there in spades but absolutely nothing of substance, just the usual discredited bullshit.

  21. Tweed/Geoff/Poh etc and etc..and his/their comment:

    The Australian government is responsible for control our borders, just like any other country. This is not happening.

    Shucks, had better phone son who is a LS on the patrol boats out of Cairns and tell him that the Navy is doing a lousy job.

  22. Me a passenger? and

    get with the real world

    Well, born in Hawthorn Victoria, my father was a factory hand and my mother was a clerk doing doctor’s books. My school holidays were spent adding up columns of figures and typing out accounts on an old Olivetti…for you young’uns, that’s a typewriter.

    I was was the first of my generation of my extended family to receive a tertiary education graduating with majors in teaching, psychology and art.

    I was a Shire Councillor being only the 3rd woman elected in 103 years, for the Shire of Lilydale.

    My jobs have included advertising manager for WGA. Manager in charge of Hotels, Head Office Jetset Tours, Advertising Manager York on Lilydale Resort. Plus I have sold chooks, plus worked putting inserts into Truckin’ Life magazine. Plus spent 6 years working the Byron Bay markets. Plus 10 years carting palm fronds at a palm nursery Billinudgel.

    And you want me to get with the real world? Where did I go wrong…

  23. Min sometimes you just have to accept that certain people don’t want to debate or consider facts they just want to believe their own crap due to their hatred and inability to accept the truth.

  24. Patricia, it is the same attitude surrounding the topics of marriage equality and indigenous issues. It’s difficult to overcome prejudice, and as you point out certain people just want to believe what they want to believe.

  25. This was one of those fly by night topics. It is an important issue, and one which one suspects that the media would like to see suppressed.

    The thing about Corby is that should she have been an American citizen that the yanks would have had her out of Bali in 10 seconds flat.

  26. ‘The thing about Corby is that should she have been an American citizen that the yanks would have had her out of Bali in 10 seconds flat.’

    That’s true, Australians are ignorant of how corrupt practice operates in Indonesia. An associate told me that Scott (a drug mule) was given time to raise the necessary bribe but failed to act.

  27. Cu, it’s a crop circle 🙂 I got sick of being a rainbow lorikeet..time for something new.

    El gordo, I think that the whole Corby issue could do with a reality check. Why wasn’t the body board chokka with dope picked up at the airport (was it Coolangatta or Brisbane)? Anyone walked through security stated, I set an alarm off by wearing an underwire bra, yet a body board of dope passed through undetected.

  28. ‘…yet a body board of dope passed through undetected.’

    It was a few years ago and maybe they didn’t check tourist baggage going to Bali. I suspect Corby had done the trip many times and became complacent, over confident with their success.

    It’s my understanding Corby, if given early release from prison, will have the spend the rest of her sentence (at least seven years) at her sister’s place in Bali. I cannot confirm this.

  29. El gordo, one of the anomalies is that a body board of dope to Bali is akin to taking coal to Newcastle. Some smartypants at the time did a valuation and said that by carting the dope to Bali that you would make around a $300.00 loss. Now who would want to do such a thing??

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