Bali is the first area of the country to benefit from a US$2 million maritime security system donated by the Australian government.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said his country had provided the communications system to help Indonesia combat maritime threats and cross-border crimes.
“Maritime security is a regional concern and the Gillard government is working with our neighbours to achieve the highest possible level of safety and security at sea,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The A$2 million (US$1,971) surveillance project was switched on Tuesday and is called the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
“The new network will be put into action today with the opening of the first of four Indonesian Maritime Regional Coordination Centres in Karangasem in Bali,” O’Connor said.
Issues the system will be employed to detect include people-smuggling, a contentious problem whereby a steady stream of asylum-seekers from war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan attempt to enter Australia after departing from parts of Indonesia, including Bali.
Illegal fishing would also be monitored, as would drug trafficking, two matters that plague the two neighbours.
“The VHF radio network provides more comprehensive reception of radio transmissions and can monitor maritime radio messages from anywhere within the archipelago,” O’Connor said.
“With better monitoring, Indonesian authorities can deploy resources more swiftly and efficiently, potentially stopping crime and saving lives,” he said.
Information picked up by the communications system and its operators will be sent to 12 Indonesian agencies as well as authorities in Australia.
The opening of the Bali centre will be followed by centres in other parts of the country – in West Timor, Maluku and easternmost Papua.
“Australia and Indonesia are working together to protect and police our adjoining waters to ensure the safety and security of the people of both our nations,” O’Connor said.
“The Gillard government appreciates the efforts of Indonesian law enforcement and border-protection agencies and we look forward to continuing to work closely together.”