TONY Abbott has done what Labor said was impossible - sent boat people right back to Indonesia.
This game-changing achievement, done twice with zero fuss, puts the lie to claims by Labor and hopeful journalists that the Abbott Government’s relations with Indonesia were already rocky.
Even more, it exposes as a fraud Labor’s claim that sending boat people back to Indonesia could not, and even should not, be done.
On Friday, HMAS Ballarat returned 44 asylum seekers picked up in the Sunda Strait and transferred them to an Indonesian coast guard vessel to be brought back to Java.
Also on Friday, Australian Customs vessel Triton saved 34 other asylum seekers off Rote Island and transferred them to the Indonesian rescue agency Basarnas.
Both transfers are yet to be confirmed by the Abbott Government, which seems overly secretive but is utterly determined to slow the frantic media cycle and to take any heat out of the Indonesian relationship.
But neither transfer could have happened without goodwill from the Indonesian Government - and particularly from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has shown more warmth to Abbott than he did to Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
Neither Rudd nor Gillard seemed able to do what Abbott has now done in his first fortnight in power.
Under Labor, boat people “saved” or intercepted by our Navy in Indonesian waters were sent not to Indonesia, but to Christmas Island.
Labor / Green Loon Muslim Insurgent Supporters and Facilitators march in a show of support for their preferred Australian Citizens and their "right" to Colonize Australia under the Labor Green Loon Joint Criminal Enterprise Refugee SCAM introduced by Lu Kewen aka. Kevin 07 and supported by Madame Gillard and the former Australian Marxist Labor / Green Loon Minority "Co Party" Federal Government led by Lu Kewen Madame Gillard and then Lu Kewen.
In August last year, for instance, 80 boat people were rescued just 43km off Indonesia’s coast, yet were ferried back to Australia.
Two months ago, 101 more were saved less than 100km from Java but also ferried to Australia. Labor insisted there was no way Abbott could do it any differently under his “turn back the boats” policy.
Just last June, Rudd warned Abbott’s policy would “risk some sort of conflict with Indonesia”. What rubbish.
The drownings must stop. Sending boat people back to where they came from is a critical first step, and Abbott’s first big win.