Peter Dutton criticizes Labor Party policy on Operation Sovereign Borders asylum seeker boats
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has blasted Labor for taking a ‘hands-on’ approach to a security issue.
Peter Dutton has accused the Albanian government of taking a “punchy” approach to border protection.
The Leader of the Opposition on Thursday repeated his claim that smugglers would seek to take advantage of the Labor government, particularly as Sri Lanka grapples with an economic crisis.
“The events around the boats coming out of Sri Lanka, it’s the fault of the government and it’s because they reacted in a clumsy way,” he told reporters.
“They are sophisticated criminal syndicates and market to people based on that. The last thing I want to see is the boats restarting.
“I don’t want to see women and children returned to detention as they were when Labor was last in power.”
Mr Dutton, who was once immigration minister, has repeatedly sought to reignite the border debate and cast Labor as the weaker choice when it comes to boat arrivals.
Earlier on Thursday, he claimed that the Albanian government had not followed the policy of Operation Sovereign Borders, which was introduced under the coalition nearly a decade ago.
“The sugar is back on the table,” he told 2GB Radio.
Labor has for years backed two of the three pillars of Operation Sovereign Borders – boat pushbacks and offshore processing.
But the party does not support the third pillar of temporary protection visas on the grounds that they can leave refugees in limbo as they were only issued to people who arrived in Australia before the entry into force of the Operation Sovereign Borders in 2013.
Labor’s policy on asylum seekers is broadly in line with that of the Coalition – no one arriving by boat will be allowed to resettle in Australia.
Home Secretary Clare O’Neil is in Sri Lanka where she stressed that Australia is maintaining this hardline approach.
Ms. O’Neil will meet the Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister and other officials.
His visit comes after boats carrying asylum seekers were intercepted en route to Australia from Sri Lanka, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis in 70 years.
More than 300 Sri Lankans have reportedly tried to flee to Australia in recent weeks as their home country faces widespread shortages of essential supplies.
The Australian government has committed $50 million in development assistance and emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis.
Australia has also provided funds to install GPS tracking devices on more than 4,000 Sri Lankan fishing vessels which were partly aimed at detecting asylum seekers’ journeys to Australia.