Indonesian people smuggler: 'I can make a lot of money'
A Timor Island fisherman says he is ready to ferry asylum seekers across the Indian Ocean, claiming the reopening of Christmas Island signals Australia is once again open slather for people smugglers.
Speaking to 9News at an East Nusa Tenggara port, Amin Tagana explained how the location was once used to board refugees onto boats under the cover of darkness and he believes it could happen again.
“There are about 30 fishermen ready to go - go out and back, out and back, out and back,” Mr Tagana said.
The medical evacuation bill passed this week will allow mainland treatment only for sick asylum seekers already on Manus Island and Nauru.
But Mr Tagana still believes the new law - and even more so Scott Morrison’s reopening of Christmas Island - could be enough to spur Indonesia’s people smugglers into action.
The father-of-three says it’s up to his bosses - who monitor Australian politics closely.
“I’m ready to go even if there’s a big storm because I can make a lot of money, more than as a fisherman,” he said.
Mr Tagana was detained for three months following his first so-called “goat” run in 2014.
He still managed to get his 95 passengers to Australian waters before capture, resulting in a 10 thousand dollar payment to rebuild his home, and next time - if there is one - he wants more money.
But he will need refugees to fill his boat and those we spoke to aren’t keen.
“The Australian government is not happy if somebody is going to go to Australia by the ship. Probably they’re going to pull back,” Afghanistan refugee Asif Pazhwak said.
Hundreds are stranded in hotels turned refugee centres on the island.
They have been in limbo for years, not allowed to work, struggling on $100 a month, and feeling hopeless - but they said they are still not willing to risk their lives.
The refugees are instead pinning their hopes on a change of Australian government.
“From the Australian election we are happy if there is some change in the new government and then they’re going to take some other people.”
“We are homeless, we are just looking for a safe country,” Mr Pazhwak said.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019