National Security

Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and shadow home affairs minister James Paterson lock horns over border security

April 10, 2024

Wednesday 10 April 2024
Oscar Godsell
Sky News

The border security debate continues to boil as Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil and shadow home affairs minister James Paterson lock horns.

Senator Paterson unleashed at his political adversary during a Sky News Australia appearance on Tuesday, accusing Ms O’Neil of dodging accountability.

The political duel began over the weekend when an undetected boat harbouring 13 Chinese asylum-seekers made it to the shores of Western Australia – the third arrival since November.

Mr Paterson’s criticism has added fuel to the fire as he previously attacked the government’s decision to scrap temporary protection visas, alleging the move has “encouraged” people smugglers.

Ms O’Neil swiftly retaliated to the accusation and said the Opposition was misrepresenting the facts.

“I've been a bit disappointed in recent days to see people that I actually respect in the Opposition coming out and, you know, telling untruths about this and calling into question aspects of this policy,” Ms O’Neil told reporters at a doorstop on Tuesday afternoon.

Senator Paterson has since retaliated and described Ms O’Neil’s unwillingness to be held accountable as injudicious.

“I think it is dangerous and irresponsible in a democracy to characterise normal political scrutiny by an opposition of a government of its performance as being, somehow, detrimental to our national security,” Mr Paterson told The Bolt Report on Tuesday night.

He pointed to statistics that show a rise in people smuggling under the Albanese government.

“The last two years, we’ve had 13 attempted people smuggling ventures come to our country… that is a virtually unprecedented event in the last ten years of border protection policy in this country.”

He also attributed this increase to the government’s failure to adequately address maritime and aerial surveillance.

“The Border Force commissioner himself, Michael Outram, has admitted that they are down 20 per cent in terms of aerial surveillance and 12 per cent in terms of on-sea surveillance.”

“If that doesn't, call upon the opposition to hold the government to account, then I don't know what is,” Senator Paterson said.

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