Why Kevin Rudd is a border protection sceptic
Earlier this year the Prime Minister sought to justify his stance on climate change by asking three questions of the opposition. Is there a problem, do you think we should do anything about it and are you committed to the solution?
Last week in parliament I asked these same questions of the Prime Minister in relation to border protection. His answers confirmed something I have long suspected. Kevin Rudd is a border protection sceptic.
The Rudd Government is now in the nervous nineties on illegal boat arrivals. Julia Gillard used to say another boat arrival, another policy failure. Well 93 boats on Kevin Rudd’s watch and more than 4250 people can’t be wrong.
Yet Labor’s denial of the problem continues. They seek an international solution, a regional solution, an Indonesian solution, and ignore the most important solution of all, the Australian solution.
Labor chose to roll back the border protection regime they inherited. No-one forced them to do it. They now need to own up to the consequences.
If the buck does stop with Kevin Rudd, it hasn’t found him yet. He continues to make excuses to do nothing. At the end of the day, his heart is just not in it. He should fess up and get it over with.
People smugglers are now determining Australia’s immigration policy on these issues. Our Prime Minister has become the Larry Emdur of Australian politics, if the price is right you can come on down.
Last week we saw that not only could the Rudd Government not make the tough decisions required to stop boats, they couldn’t even make decisions about people who blew them up.
The decision of the NT coroner on SIEV36 is not just some guy with a theory about what happened. This is the finding of an extensive coronial inquiry. He found that three individuals were ‘part of a plan to cripple the boat’.
This plan led to the deaths of five people, injured dozens more and put at risk the safety of Australian defence force personnel.
The Opposition is not asking the Minister for Immigration to make any finding of criminality in these matters in our call for their visas to be revoked. That will be for the NT Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue and the courts to decide.
The Minister for Immigration’s job is determine under s501 and clause 6c of the Migration Act whether these ‘general acts’ of being ‘part of a plan to cripple the boat’ commend these individuals as persons of good character, deserving of residency in Australia. If they are not, he has the power to cancel their visas today.
Alternative orders can be issued by the Attorney General to ensure they are available to remain in the country to face any charges or court proceedings.
The point here is that the immigration and criminal prosecution issues are separate and must be treated accordingly. The Rudd Government has sought to improperly fuse them together to avoid having to make a difficult decision.
They then held out the pompous threat of prejudicing a court proceeding when no charges have been laid and no proceedings have been commenced. This is just another excuse for not taking action.
A decision to cancel their visas suggests no further level of guilt than the NT Coroner has already determined in his findings, as a decision to revoke the visas on character grounds would be based only on the findings of the Coroner.
There are plenty of people wandering around who are not of good character who don’t happen to be convicted of any criminal offence. Our Migration Act provides power to the Minister to refuse such persons visas. He has chosen not to do so.
The plea to wait for the decision of the courts is yet another excuse from a Government that refuses to make difficult decisions on immigration issues.
The implication of this position is that if they are not convicted then they will keep their visas. Furthermore if they are convicted and face a sentence of less than twelve months they will also remain.
In each case we will have said you can be part of plan to blow up a boat and that‘s OK with us. Well it’s not OK with the Coalition. If Labor won’t stop the boats, they could at least deal with those found to be part of plan to blow one up.
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