Indonesia's foreign minister demanded answers from Canberra about claims Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to turn a boat back to Indonesia after Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to deny the allegations.
Indonesia's foreign minister demanded answers from Canberra about claims Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to turn a boat back to Indonesia after Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to deny the allegations. AFP Photo / Januar

Abbott's back against wall over payments to people smugglers

PRESSURE is mounting for Tony Abbott to come clean about allegations Australian officials paid people smugglers to turn back their boats.

The Greens will try and force Mr Abbott to table documents relating to the claims in Parliament today MONDAY.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said the Order to Produce Documents covered any paperwork about "the interception and turn-back of an asylum seeker boat including any payments of monies to individuals on board".

"These allegations are extremely serious and the Parliament has both a right and responsibility to find out what has really been going on," the Greens spokesperson for Immigration said.

Meanwhile, Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles on Sunday said the claims would hurt the country's ties with Indonesia.

Relations are only just returning to normal after Australia condemned Jakarta for the executions of Bali Nine ring-leaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Mr Marles said Indonesia and his party wanted the PM to come clean with what he knows about the payment claims.

Mr Marles told ABC's Insiders program he "(I) would have thought it was a clear matter to deny the proposition that we would not be paying people smugglers," Mr Marles told ABC's Insiders program.

"It is no small matter here, this is clearly now having an impact on our relationship with Indonesia, that the foreign minister of Indonesia has raised this with our ambassador to Indonesia, just highlights the fact it is on their mind.

"But we shouldn't be waiting for the Indonesians to do this investigation, we should be hearing from our own government about what exactly happened."

Mr Marles said using tax-payers' money to pay off boat smugglers was "ridiculous".

"Why on earth you would be trying to create a pull factor of this kind, giving people smugglers the sense that if they turn up next to an Australian Navy vessel there is half a chance they're going to be given some Australian taxpayer-funded money, this is ridiculous if that's what's ultimately occurred."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, MP Philip Ruddock and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann refuted the allegations when they surfaced last week.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she discussed the claims with Australia's ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson.

"I just asked him 'What is it about, tell me, what is it?," the ABC reported on Sunday.

"He promised to take my question, my inquiry, to Canberra and he promised to get back to me again." - APN NEWSDESK



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