Nowadays, the Liberal Government in Australia is touting itself on the "success" of its "Cambodian Resettlement Deals", which sees half-dozen asylum seekers in Nauru had opted for that alternative. The mainstream press, of course, has been floating astonishingly high cost for that resettlement deals -- 40 to 55 Millions AUD -- if the Australian public were to believe. Having viewed recent Al-Jazzier report on the resettlement deals [#2], such operation involves no more than managing one or two 'transit houses' for asylum-seekers in Phnom Penh, support perhaps for few IOM contingents out there and, definitely, half-a-dozen 'Bottles of Grange' for the ministers in Cambodia. Even with this Liberal Government's "money can fix all" generosity, such a deal would surely amounts no where near 40 millions.
The mainstream press, of course, is comfortable reporting this highly inflated costs of that resettlement deals. One deal the mainstream press wouldn't dare touching upon though, is the DIBP's bribery payments to the Indonesian smugglers.
Political or Administrative ?
A question we might needs to ponder is whether the decision to pay smugglers was made at the political level (the ministers' office) or the DIBP administrative levels. When we look at the total payment amount (AUD 32,000), which is not at all large and the decision may as well have been made at the DIBP administrative levels. However, from the recent reply on notice to the Senate Inquiry, the DIBP is quite confident they are covered [#4].
Is ASIS involved ?
The alleged involvement of ASIS in this bribery incident is more interesting. As of the news of bribery scandal broke out (13/6/15), a Daily Telegraph article on (16/6/15) alleging that the ASIS may have involved [#3]. The comment by Richard Marles in this regards made a good sense. He said, “It’s not really for any national security reason. It’s effectively a media strategy and it denies the Australian people the ability to apply scrutiny to a matter which is very much in the public interest."
Actually, when the Government says 'national security', then every one -- including the press & public -- has normal reaction to taking steps back. The Government had played this 'national security' card far too often, nobody would believe them now.
By the time now though, the ASIS may have been included in the bribery scheme (backdated to cover up DIBP tracks). In this case, the bribery payment will no longer become just 'administrative' or 'political' mistake. It will become a scandal, which comparable to that of Watergate.
Whilst those responsible have chosen not to disclose on this matter, we -- the activists -- must pursue any available avenue which may well open to us [#1].
-- In Solidarity, U Ne Oo, Sydney.