23 January 2012

Leader of the Opposition promises tough stance on Australian immigration

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has revealed that if he is elected prime minister, he will impose new tougher Australian immigration policies and make 'turning the boats' back his core policy.

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Mr Abbott has promised a tough new stance to bring down the number of boat arrivals to Australia.

Mr Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party and the Coalition, has spoken out in recent weeks at his disappointment regarding Prime Minister Julia Gillard's policies and the way her government has handled the worsening Australian immigration issue.

News of overcrowding in the nation's detention centres, an increase in the number of boat arrivals and Indonesia's recent announcement that it plans to relax visa restrictions and therefore make it easier for asylum seekers to reach Australia has brought the immigration issue to the forefront of Australian politics.

Now, Mr Abbott has claimed that the issue is "a test of wills and Australia has lost."

Mr Abbott claims that if he is elected prime minister, he will tell Jakarta that Australia will no longer accept the arrival of boats.

"It is time for Australia to adopt turning the boats as its core policy" he said.

"What counts is what the Australian government does, not what it says".

These steps, Mr Abbott says, would involve increasing the number of naval vessels to intercept and turn back arriving boats, even if that means removing asylum seekers from sabotaged boats by force and repairing them before sending them back.

Ms Gillard's government has come under increased scrutiny for its immigration policies, particularly the much maligned and eventually scrapped Malaysia Solution, a people swapping deal. Mr Abbott has ruled out reinstating this policy and instead intends to implement a tougher process of temporary protection visas granted to refugees.

Mr Abbott claims that favouring genuine refugees by restricting the number of permanent Australian visas granted to temporary protection visa holders will provide a disincentive to potential asylum seekers.

Mr Abbott's announcement has already been met with criticism from opposing politicians with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young saying the plans were "immoral because it will put at risk the lives of navy personnel and asylum seekers".


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