Stooping The Boats Starts From Day 1

Tony Abbott has vowed ”more forthright” interdictions of asylum-seeker vessels in the seas to Australia’s north from Wednesday as he moves to put an immediate stamp on border protection.

Mr Abbott, unveiling his frontbench on Monday, set his incoming immigration minister Scott Morrison the challenging task of making a difference ”from day one” after the government is sworn in.

”Do I think that the boats will stop dead on day one of an incoming government? I wish, but it may not happen,” Mr Abbott said.

”But from day one the people smugglers and their customers will start to notice a very significant difference. Interdiction operations in the seas to our north will change and become more forthright.”

The Coalition has among its border protection policies the plan to turn back asylum-seeker vessels to Indonesia when it is safe to do so, and also to stop boats from Sri Lanka outside Australia’s waters and return the passengers directly to that country.

However, both of these measures will require some discussions with the respective governments of those countries before they can be put into effect. Fairfax Media was seeking further detail from Mr Abbott’s office as to what he meant by the remark about more forthright interdictions.

Mr Abbott added that co-operation with Indonesia would become ”more vigorous” and asylum seekers transferred to offshore processing on Manus Island and Nauru ”more swiftly” from the moment the new government was sworn in.

”So Operation Sovereign Borders will commence on Wednesday when the new ministry is sworn in … This is one of those stand-or-fall issues,” Mr Abbott said.

Operation Sovereign Borders is the name for the Coalition’s tough new approach to border protection that will be led by a three-star military commander.

Mr Abbott is due to visit Indonesia for the APEC summit in Bali in early October but incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop told Sky News on Monday that he would also make an earlier, separate visit to Jakarta in the coming fortnight.

Indonesian police and prosecutors are failing to dent people smuggling because they catch low-level players rather than kingpins, an Australian study has found.

Corruption and a lack of resources for Indonesian law enforcement meant that the masterminds enjoyed relative impunity while lesser players were convicted. Antje Missbach, of the University of Melbourne and Melissa Crouch, of the National University of Singapore studied 30 people-smuggling trials between May 2011 and December 2012.


Leave a reply