Monday, 17 December 2018
Media release

Labor again weakens border policy

Labor's announcements today on its proposed actions to protect Australia's borders are nothing but subterfuge.

Bill Shorten is promising to do this and he's promising to do that, but what he won't promise to do is maintain the Coalition's strong border polices that have stopped the boats.

In fact what he has committed to is unravelling Operation Sovereign Borders – the Coalition's successful policy – that stopped the boats after Labor's last disastrous term in government.

There are three crucial pillars to Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) – boat turn-backs, regional processing and Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) – Labor opposes two of them.

It has previously announced it will remove TPVs.

Today its National Conference will confirm the end to offshore processing via its support for legislation that contracts out Australia's border protection to activist doctors, who via Skype, will decide that illegal arrivals in Manus and Nauru must come to Australia.

Who would believe Bill Shorten's assertion that Labor will continue to turn-back boats. That was Kevin Rudd's lie in 2007 – just as it is Bill Shorten's lie in 2018.

Who can forget the almost daily arrival of a people smuggler's boat – 800 of them under the last Labor Government – bringing 50,000 illegal arrivals or the 1,200 dying at sea as their flimsy boats were smashed to pieces.

It has taken five years and over $16 billion so far to clean up that mess from the Labor years.

Australians continue to pay for it today.

Labor's announcements are an implicit recognition that their policy changes will put people smugglers back into business – OSB is a Joint Agency Task Force drawing upon 16 agencies including a network of 38 AFP officers across Asia. Labor says they'll spend more on the Australian Federal Police, yet when last in government they cut its budget by $128 million.

Worse, they slashed $735 million and 700 staff from the then Customs – now Border Force.

Labor today talks about increasing Australia's Humanitarian Program – yet in the Rudd-Gillard years it got pushed aside as Australia was swamped with illegal arrivals.

The Special Humanitarian Program fell from 4,700 in 2007 to just 500 in 2012-13 while the number of illegal arrivals taking their places rose from 200 to almost 5,000.

By stopping the boats the Coalition Government restored integrity to our migration programs and increased the refugee intake by more than 35 per cent making Australia one of the most generous resettlement nations in the world.

That again is at risk if Labor does not commit to all three pillars of OSB.

Bill Shorten could just state that he is committed to the policies of Operation Sovereign Borders that have stopped the flow of boats and illegal arrivals.

His failure to do so is acknowledgement that Labor does not have the mettle to maintain the tough policies needed to protect our nation's borders.

Australians learned the hard way under Kevin Rudd that Labor cannot be trusted to keep the boats stopped.