National Security

Sea change is coming

April 9, 2024

Tuesday 09 April 2024
Ellen Ransley
Toowoomba Chronical

 Coalition hones attack on Labor over asylum seekers
 A new political battle has broken out over Australia's border policy, as the  Coalition warns hundreds of asylum seekers could die at sea because of  Labor's abolition of temporary protection visas.
 A group of people, reportedly Chinese nationals, was located in remote  Western Australia on the weekend, having arrived on the coast undetected. The  group has since been sent to Nauru.
 It's the third known arrival since November, sparking a warning from the  Coalition that Australia could be about to begin another period of high  levels of boat arrivals.
 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has maintained that boats also arrived under  the previous government, and there has been "no change" in policy  since then.
 "We will deal with any unauthorised arrivals consistent with Operation  Sovereign Borders, and that's what we've done," Mr Albanese said on  Sunday.
 But opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said Labor's abolition  of temporary protection visas provided an incentive for people to "get  on boats and come here". "The abolition of that visa by this  government has sent the wrong message to people smugglers and wouldbe asylum  seekers and, regretfully, appears to have encouraged them to get on boats  again and the reason why that's such a problem is we know last time, that  cost at least 1200 lives at sea," he told ABC News.
 "We don't want to see that happen again. We don't want to see people  drowning on unseaworthy vessels on the way to Australia . we're about to see  that again." Labor abolished the TPV and the Safe Haven Enterprise Visas  in February 2023, opening up a path to permanency for thousands of refugees  who arrived prior to OSB's establishment in 2013.
 Senator Paterson said he was "very concerned" that the government  appeared to be slashing the border force budget, instead of increasing it.
 The government has routinely denied the claim, with Environment Minister  Tanya Plibersek spruiking the $500m extra given to Operation Sovereign  Borders under Labor.
 "Of course, we don't like to see boats arrive and these people have been  dealt with immediately," she told Channel 7. "It sends a strong  message to smugglers who might consider sending people on this terrible,  dangerous journey.
 "The commander of Operation Sovereign Borders has made it clear that  nothing has changed (with the border policy) . that the settings are as  strong as ever, and they have got the extra budget now." Her panelmate  Barnaby Joyce said Coalition analysis suggested there had been a 14 per cent  reduction in the surveillance capacity of the borders, and a $16m reduction  in the budget.
 Ms Plibersek said "that is not right".

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