Australia Baffled by Indonesia Boat Policy

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  • Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (left) and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono walk together before a meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Monday (30/9). AP/Achmad Ibrahim

    Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (left) and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono walk together before a meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Monday (30/9). AP/Achmad Ibrahim

    TEMPO.CO, Sydney - The Australian government has admitted that it is confused over Indonesia’s policy on asylum seekers, refered to as boat people. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday there was "no rhyme or reason" as to why Indonesia had accepted two boatloads of asylum-seekers picked up by Australian vessels but refused others. 

    Morrison said two boatloads of asylum-seekers intercepted by Australian ships had previously been accepted by Indonesian authorities. However, Jakarta refused to take about 60 people picked up south of Java by an Australian vessel on Thursday. On Saturday, Morrison ordered they be transferred to Australia's remote territory of Christmas Island for processing. 

    The incident comes as Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is under pressure following reports earlier this month that Australia's overseas diplomatic posts were involved in a vast US-led surveillance network. 

    When asked about the boat incident on Monday, Prime Minister Abbott said he would not "make too much" of what happened, but suggested that Indonesia had a responsibility to accept those on the boat. 

    CHANNEL NEWS ASIA | NATALIA SANTI