Asylum-Seeking Boats Must Be Turned Back – Australian Opposition Leader

by Gopalan on  December 31, 2009 at 4:07 PM General Health News
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 Asylum-Seeking Boats Must Be Turned Back – Australian Opposition Leader
Turning more and more aggressive on his conservative plank, Tony Abbott, the new conservative leader of Australia, today vowed to send back boats carrying asylum seekers - though he hurried to qualify his statement by saying that such ruthlessness would be displayed only in certain circumstances, not always.

Abbott had toppled a less hot-headed Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party early this month, during the debate on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's emission trading scheme.

Since defeating the scheme in the parliament and the Copenhagen fiasco, Abbott has been ratcheting up his rhetoric on a range of issues.

The interception of three boats carrying asylum seekers by Australian authorities in as many days has revived the debate on immigration issues in the country. In all, 59 boats were intercepted in the year winding down, the government says. 

Abbott says if the Coalition (of Liberals and the National Party) is elected to government, it would maintain offshore processing for asylum seekers, and reintroduce a system of temporary visas.

He says close cooperation with neighbouring countries is also necessary, but he has told Macquarie Radio that turning boats back must be an option in some circumstances.

"It can't be a boat that's going to sink and you've got have the kind of relationship with the source countries that if the boat goes back the people will be accepted," he said.

"It's a question of being an effective government and of being fair dinkum with people, and an Australian Government that doesn't have the option of turning boats back in the right circumstances is a government that is not doing enough," he said.

"It's got to be part of your policy arsenal."

He also accused the Prime Minister of going into hiding since returning from the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen and challenged him to debate the asylum seeker issue and his emissions trading scheme policy in public.

"He can't explain his emissions trading scheme," he said.

"He can't explain why he has lost control of Australia's borders.

"I think it's high time he came out of hiding."

Prime Minister Rudd has another two years to go to face national elections, though there are some speculations he might order an early poll on the ETS issue.

But after the Copenhagen no-show and the terror attempt by the Nigerian youth in USA, he might think the conservative lobby could be on the comeback trail and hence prefer to play it safe.

By the same token, Abbott is stepping up his attacks. But not everyone shares his enthusiasm.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser says it would not be appropriate to turn any boats back.

He says to do so would breach Australia's obligations under the refugee convention.

"I think it's a policy out of the past, appropriate to the 1930s, and the idea of turning boat people back out to sea is also a total denial of obligations under the refugee convention," he said.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor says the Government has spent more than $650 million implementing a comprehensive strategy to combat people smuggling.

Surely in these times of economic difficulties, economic migrants would have a tough time of it.

Back in 2001, the then conservative Prime Minister John Howard stubbornly refused to allow 450 refugees to land on Christmas Island, sparking international criticism.

The refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, had earlier been picked up from their sinking boat in the Indian Ocean by the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa.

The Tampa was first alerted by the Australian Coast Guard. After rescuing the refugees just as their boat was breaking up, the Norwegian ship steamed directly to Christmas Island, an Australian dependency far out in the Indian Ocean off Java. The Government refused the refugees permission to land and ordered the Tampa out of Australian waters. The captain declined to leave: pointing out that his vessel was not equipped to carry so many passengers.

Prime Minister Howard responded by sending heavily armed SAS troops to occupy the ship. Eventually, of the 433 asylum seekers on the Tampa, 131 were accepted by New Zealand and 302 sent to Nauru, a small Pacific nation, closely allied to Australia.

 Perhaps the greatest blot on refugee history is the saga of St. Louis. Around 900 Jews set sail on that ship from Hamburg in 1939, trying to flee the Fuehrer. But they were refused permission to land anywhere in the Americas. They had to return home in despair - many of them ending up in the Nazi death camps.

Source: Medindia

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As a British/French retiree who currently lives in South East Asia , I would agree with Tony Abbot concerning all these so called refugees/asylum seekers , who are giving problems not only for Australia but a lot of developed countries . As Australia and Europe have found out , these people are often not an asset for the countries , and are more often than not economical refugees , and not of the highest calibre . Australia has strict laws about immigration , even for retirees [ I should know] , yet they let in unqualified , uneducated and dubious so called refugees . I agree there has to be international agreement concerning this problem

The opposition leader of Australia, Mr. Tony Abbott, is right on both issues, namely border protection and the ETS (Emission Trading Scheme)the government deviously tried to push onto the Australian public. His attitude and his sentiments are widely acclaimed and are supported by the majority of the Australian population. The ETS is nothing but an excessive new tax that will practically do nothing to combat global warming, and the current government's border protection policies are totally ineffective. So-called "asylum seekers", who try to get the sympathy of the Australian taxpayer, but can afford to pay outrageous amounts in the vicinity of $15,000 to people smugglers, should go and place their application for asylum at the Australian embassy where they are now, not illegally attempt queue-jumping. Considering 59 boats have arrived in Australia in 2009, something has to be done. Obviously, as the present government has no solutions for pressing problems, at the next election the opposition must be given the task of bringing Australia onto the right course again.


Nick-You are right on the money.Rudd's lies and spin must be now evident to even
his own supporters.You can fool some of the people-etc.
Bring on the next election and get Rudd and his dead beats out.Brian of Perth.


There's nothing devious about Rudds government policies on asylum seekers or the ETS. They won our majority votes on precisely those policies. And the opposition lost because of their inhumane treatment of refugees, and it's corporate view of the environment. My personal opinion is that both governments should quit wasting more money on making it difficult for economic refugees. These people are precisely what Australia wants regarding keenness to get in, keenness to work hard, to be entrepreneurial, keenness to be Australian. You couldn't get more keen suitable immigrants if you tried thru legit methods!

satyr_icon, you must be one of the few Australians who have not woken up to the lies and false pretences, that put the arrogant Kevin Rudd and his merry band of incompetent pretenders into power. Rest assured, it won't happen again! But I agree on one thing - The boat people, or illegal queue jumpers, are certainly very keen to get to Australia. They are keen to get here, but for everything Australia offers [social security, medical benefits, life standards], not for what they can offer to our country. Most of them do not even speak English, do not adjust to our way of life, and don't have any desire to integrate into our society. As far as "skills" are concerned, being handy with a Kalashnikov is not really a qualification that would be required in our daily pursuits.

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