Liberals Bereft Of Immigration Policy

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13th October 2009, 06:38pm - Views: 668

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Media Contact: Simon Dowding – (02) 6277 7860 or 0411 138 541

Media release

Senator Chris Evans

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship



13 October 2009

Liberals bereft of immigration policy 

Liberal backbench MP Philip Ruddock has made some claims on asylum seekers based on nothing

more than his own opinion.

I also note Philip Ruddock has called for the reintroduction of the disgraced Pacific Solution and

temporary protection visas (TPVs). The Liberal Party was silent when these measures were

scrapped last year. Is this now Liberal Party policy or is it more division within the Liberal Party?

The Liberal Party wants a debate on immigration policy but has no policy other than to call for an

inquiry.   The Liberal Party must clarify today if they will bring back the Pacific Solution and if they

will bring back TPVs.

The facts are that temporary protection visas did not stop the boats while the Pacific Solution left

people languishing in detention for years on end. There were 8455 irregular maritime arrivals from

94 boats in the two years after the introduction of TPVs in 1999, including 5516 arrivals in 2001

alone – many of whom were women and children. 

By the time TPVs were abolished last year, nearly 90 per cent of people initially granted a temporary

protection visa had been granted a permanent visa to remain in Australia. 

The reality is that there have been irregular boat arrivals to Australia in 25 of the past 33 years.

From 1999 to 2001 under the Howard Government there were 12 176 boat arrivals.

These were mainly Afghans and Iraqis fleeing the brutal regimes of the Taliban and Saddam

Hussein. The Liberal Party didn’t claim then that pull factors caused those boat arrivals – and indeed

they weren’t. 

The Taliban regime fell at the end of 2001, and in 2003 Iraq was invaded by Coalition forces and the

Saddam Hussein regime ended. The fall of these two brutal regimes saw boat arrivals to Australia in

the following years decline dramatically. By 2004, more than 3.1 million people had returned home

to Afghanistan.

In 2008 and 2009, we have seen a resurgence of mainly Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers

who have fled their own countries and are seeking safe haven in Europe, North America and


To combat people smuggling the Rudd Government has retained the excision of offshore islands

and retained mandatory detention and processing on Christmas Island for irregular maritime arrivals.

In this year’s Budget, we committed $654 million for a comprehensive, whole-of-government

strategy to combat people smuggling and help address the problem of irregular maritime arrivals.

We have deployed extra resources through the Australian Federal Police and Customs and Border

Protection to Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

We are committed to dealing with asylum seekers humanely and ensuring those people who are not

refugees are returned to their home countries.

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