Australian Political Crisis and Indonesia: a Small Piece of Thought


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Crisis apparently appears as a new buzz word among international political leaders. Either political crisis like what is currently faced by London, or economic crisis which besieges Istanbul. Recently, the list of these countries has prolonged following the leadership crisis in Australia. It was noted that Bill Shorten, the leader of the Australian Labor Party, has launched “no-confidence” motion to kill Turnbull’s reign on this Tuesday. Shorten used the weapon after realizing there was a leadership spill within the Liberal party as Peter Dutton also targeted the pinnacle of the Party’s organizational structure. Notwithstanding, Turnbull amazingly survived the first attempted-political-coup, yet he cannot secure his internal support afterwards.

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As reported by an Australia national news, Canberra will welcome Scott Morrison as the newly-elect prime minister earlier today. This announcement seemingly remarks the end of thirteen ministers’ resignation dramas in the past three days. Leadership crisis is actually not a novel fashion to Australian politics. The Guardian reported that none of Australian Prime Minister is able to finish his or her tenure completely since 2007. Even so, Australia was ever awarded as the “Coup Capital of the Pacific”. As this is a sign of Australian political leaders’ endless vulnerability, it is highly noted that some notable names have become victims of this dangerous motion. Some of them are Kevin Rudd in 2010, Julia Gillard in 2013, Tony Abbot in 2015, and Mark Turnbull in 2018. Unfortunately, the latest event is the second experience of Turnbull being toppled down after the 2009-political-coup when he was the leader of the opposition team. Prior to the Morrison’s slight victory, at least three other candidates were predicted to join the internal race, namely Julie Bishop (Foreign Minister), Tony Abbot (Former Prime Minister), and Peter Dutton (Former Home Affairs Minister). The victory leads us to two basic questions. While the first one concerns on the characteristics of his past policies, the second one focuses on the potential impact of his forthcoming policies towards Indonesia.

In addressing the first issue, Scott Morrison is one of Australian prominent politicians. As stated in his website, Morrison has orchestrated some notable policies, such as “Stopped the Boats” campaign and Sovereign Borders Operation to address irregular migrants when he was the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection. He was also known for returning the pension system and initiating friendlier job for families when he acted as the Minister of Social Service. Other than that, Morrison’s crucial achievements when act as the Treasurer are preserving Australia’s AAA credit rating, and slashing personal and corporate revenue taxes. While it is necessary for us to scrutinize Morrison’s past policies comprehensively, the foremost issue that may potentially disturb relations between Canberra and Jakarta is about irregular migrants.

Over the years, Morrison consistently shows his objection over massive irregular migrants to Australia. One of the signs was shown in 2013 when he consciously attempted to delay the process of permanent protection visas for asylum seekers. Another piece of evidence was found in the 2014 Australian Customs and Border Protection’s Talking Points. It was clearly stated on the first point that “Australia will no longer consider for resettlement anyone who has registered with UNHCR in Indonesia on or after 1 July 2014”. All of these help us in foreseeing how his future immigration policies might be. Among several possible scenarios, Australian tougher immigration policies may be the most likely outcome for Indonesia. The signal is somehow reflected in his inaugural vision to pursue a “stronger” and “safer” Australia even though he has not addressed irregular migration specifically. If this is true, then the potential impact of it is increasing Indonesia’s burden in managing the issue. The Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights as reported by a national media stated earlier this year that the asylum seekers have forced the government to face the inevitable dilemma. On the one hand, local governments are complaining over budget to sustain the community housing in each respective region. While on the other hand, local governments have the responsibility to take care the asylum seekers as it is mandated by Presidential Regulation No. 125 in 2016.

This problem, unfortunately, will go nowhere as the central government lacks of resources as well. After all, Indonesia needs to take seriously about this matter by encouraging Australia to adhere the Refugee Convention 1951 constantly. For the time being, the Indonesian government should also give a shot to other options on the table. It may be involving the private sectors and attracting international foundations, or maybe empowering them with useful entrepreneurial skills.

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