On 17 January 2014, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection,
the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced that 'Border Protection Command assets
had, in the conduct of maritime operations associated with [OSB], inadvertently
entered Indonesian territorial waters on several occasions, in breach of
Australian Government policy'.
Minister Morrison stressed that it was the 'firm policy and commitment' of the
Government 'not to violate the territorial sovereignty of Indonesia in relation
to any operations conducted under [OSB]'.
He noted that formal apologies on behalf of the Australian Government would be
made to the Indonesian government.
At the same press conference, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell
emphasised that at no time were Australian vessels authorised to enter
Indonesian waters and that the personnel on the vessels believed they were at
all times operating outside of Indonesian waters.
On 21 January 2014, Customs and Defence announced that a joint review
would be conducted to investigate the circumstances under which Australian
naval vessels entered Indonesian territorial waters. The inquiry would cover
the period between 1 December 2013 and 20 January 2014.
The joint review concluded on 10 February 2014 and a public version
released on 19 February.
The summary of the review's findings and recommendations indicated that two Royal
Australian Navy (RAN) frigates had crossed into Indonesian territory four times
during the period, while Customs vessels did so on another two occasions. The
report confirmed that '[o]n each occasion the incursion was inadvertent, in
that each arose from incorrect calculation of the boundaries of Indonesian
waters rather than as a deliberate action or navigational error'.
Conduct of the inquiry
On 5 March 2014, the Senate referred matters relating to breaches of
Indonesian territorial waters to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
References Committee 'with effect from 20 March 2014 for inquiry and report by
midday 27 March 2014'.
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and through social media and
called for submissions. The committee received three public submissions. These
are published on the committee's website and listed at Appendix 1.
The committee held a public hearing on 21 March 2014 and invited
witnesses from the relevant departments and agencies as well as academics.
Witnesses who appeared at the hearing are listed at Appendix 2.
Structure of the report
The report consists of three chapters. Following this introduction,
Chapter two examines evidence provided to the committee at a public hearing on
21 March in relation to the maritime incursions. Chapter three provides the
committee's conclusions and recommendations.
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