National Security

Transcript | 2GB Ben Fordham Live | 14 May 2024

May 14, 2024

Tuesday 14 May 2024
Interview on 2GB Ben Fordham Live
Subjects: Labor's weak border policies are bringing back the boats

BEN FORDHAM: Albo has got a boat problem, he's got a big, big, big problem with boats. Behind the scenes the Prime Minister is extremely worried, some may say paranoid because the people smugglers are back in business. And apparently, we've got a new strategy being deployed. Asylum seekers are not being sent to Nauru for offshore processing. In the last week, three asylum seeker vessels have been intercepted. We had five Rwandans who were taken to Papua New Guinea. Four Vietnamese nationals intercepted off Broome, 33, who arrived at Christmas Island and according to Border Force sources, none were taken to Nauru. Instead, it's understood they were taken on board a Border Force vessel for processing. So this might be a signal that Border Force is prepared to change the way they're dealing with illegal arrivals, let’s go to Senator James Paterson, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, is on the line. James Paterson, good morning.

JAMES PATERSON: Good morning, Ben.

FORDHAM: He's got a boat problem.

PATERSON: He sure does and there's only one issue I would take with your introductory comments, Ben, which is you said that these boats were intercepted. But actually, that's what happens when Border Force identifies a vessel on the way to Australia and stops them from getting here. In this instance, it appears that all three of these vessels in the last week reached Australian territory before Border Force identified them and therefore made it onto land. Now, if that's right, that means that since the election, there've been six boats, all of them in the last six months, who have made it all the way to Australia, which is virtually unheard of in decades of border protection history and a shocking failure of this government.

FORDHAM: Well we reduced our aerial monitoring, didn't we? off the coast? And that's one of the reasons we're not finding as many when they're making their way here.

PATERSON: That's it. Under the Labor government, aerial monitoring and on sea surveillance are down by 20% and 12%, respectively. So it's no wonder that boats are slipping through and it's a result of this government being weak when it comes to Operation Sovereign Borders. They have undermined Operation Sovereign Borders at every opportunity, including abolishing temporary protection visas, reducing flying hours, and planning to cut over $400 million out of the budget over the next three years.

FORDHAM: Yeah, I'm just having a look at this plan that they seem to be investigating, and all of this is happening behind the scenes. They are not saying any of this on the record, James Paterson, but it looks like Border Force is now processing people on Border Force vessels and not sending them to Nauru. So is that a sign of heading back towards Tony Abbott's boat turn backs, where we would turn boats around, when safe to do so? Or we would even put them in one of those life rafts, one of those big orange life rafts, and send them back to where they came from.

PATERSON: You might remember, Ben, that's a policy that Anthony Albanese railed against when he was in opposition. He said we should never do boat turn backs. He argued against it at the Labor party's national conference. And it's no surprise that people smugglers have sniffed that weakness and they are now testing him. I hope there is a change of policy. I hope there is a changed approach. Because there has been 17 attempted people smuggling ventures since the election. More than 300 people have made that journey and obviously transferring them to Nauru for processing hasn't worked in deterring the boats. They keep coming, so we've got to try something new. But really, we need some transparency here. Where is the Minister for Home Affairs? Where is the Minister for Immigration? Where's the Prime Minister? When are they going to stand up and explain what they're doing differently, why they are doing it differently, and what the plan is to fix this?

FORDHAM: We even had a case not so long ago, Senator Paterson, when some people arrived in WA and they ended up walking onto a base there, they were just wandering around.

PATERSON: That not just once, but twice, asylum seekers have been dropped off and been wandering off the northwest coast of Australia in remote bushland, including, as you say, onto a base that's used by our military, without being detected. I mean, that's an extraordinary national security breach that anyone can approach our mainland, drop people off and leave without being detected. This time it was asylum seekers. But if people can breach our borders that way, why wouldn't others try to do so?

FORDHAM: We appreciate you jumping on the line. Thank you.

PATERSON: Thanks, Ben.


Recent News

All Posts