Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee; Reference
That the following matter be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, with effect from 20 March 2014, for inquiry and report by midday 27 March 2014:
An inquiry into the breach of Indonesian territorial waters between 1 December 2013 and 20 January 2014 by Royal Australian Navy and/or Customs vessels in connection with Operation Sovereign Borders (the incidents), and in doing so, the committee must consider:
(a) the sequence of events that led to the incidents, including detailed accounts of each incident;
(c) the extent to which the incidents complied with international law;
(d) the steps being taken to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future;
(e) the communications between Operation Sovereign Borders agencies, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Joint Agency Taskforce, the Department of Defence and Customs and Border Protection, regarding the incidents;
(f) the communications between the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Minister for Defence, the Senior Command of the Australian Defence Force, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Department of Defence, Customs and Border Protection and Operation Sovereign Borders agencies, including the Joint Agency Taskforce, regarding the incidents;
(g) the operational procedures observed by the Royal Australian Navy and other Commonwealth agencies involved in Operation Sovereign Borders to ensure the safety of its personnel and asylum seekers during the incidents;
(h) the briefings given to Australian Navy and Customs and Border Protection personnel (both on-water and off-water) about maritime borders and laws of the sea during on water operations; and
(i) any other matters relating to Operation Sovereign Borders.
The government will not be supporting this motion. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Defence Force have completed a joint review into the actions of the ADF and Customs in relation to Australian vessels that entered Indonesian waters. The review identified that there was a clear government intention to achieve the aims of the operation with a focus on safety and effectiveness without compromising Indonesian sovereignty. The breaches were inadvertent and the review found that there was nothing in the strategic guidance provided for the operation that required, implied or suggested that a breach of Indonesian sovereignty would be acceptable. The Australian government has formally apologised to the Indonesian government. Australian Customs CEO and Chief of the Defence Force have accepted the joint review's findings and recommendations and have directed the implementation of the recommendations. The motion is, once again, nothing more and nothing less than a Greens political stunt.