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Opposition accused of political opportunism o -

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Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: In an unusual move, the Northern Territory coroner has revealed the provisional cause
of death for the three men who died during last Thursday's explosion near Ashmore Reef.

The coroner Greg Cavanagh says that due to the intense public interest in the case, he's revealing
the preliminary autopsy result -- which indicates the men drowned. But he cautions, the findings
are also subject to further toxicology and forensic tests.

It comes as the Federal Opposition toughens its stance on immigration, with leader Malcolm Turnbull
calling for the re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas.

Mr Turnbull says the decision to scrap them last year was a mistake, as he claims it's led to an
increase in the number of boats coming to Australia.

But Immigration Minister Chris Evans has rejected the call, describing it as "political
opportunism".

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Temporary protection visas were introduced 10 years ago to discourage people smugglers
and asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat. Those granted the visas had to reapply for
them after a number of years in the knowledge that if the situation improved in their home
countries they would be told to go back.

For weeks now the Federal Opposition's claimed the decision to abolish that class of visa last
August has led to an increase in boats coming to Australia and ultimately it led to last week's
fatal blast off Ashmore reef.

The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told Radio National the visas should be brought back.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Certainly, the re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas should be high on
the agenda

SABRA LANE: And Mr Turnbull says the visas were a strong deterrent.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: From between 2002 and the end of 2008, fiscal year 2008, there were around half
as many people arriving as have arrived since August last year. So the fact of the matter is since
the TPVs were abolished by the Rudd Government, there has been a dramatic increase.

SABRA LANE: Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

CHRIS EVANS: Now look this is just political opportunism again from Malcolm Turnbull. We abolished
Temporary Protection Visas as part of the 2008 Budget. There's been no call for the reimposition
them again from the Liberals until now.

They seemed to have accepted that they'd gone. We found that they weren't working as a deterrent
all they were doing was punishing people who had been found to be owed our protection and the vast
majority of people who got a TPV became permanent residents at the end of that period.

So we don't think that's necessarily a good measure in terms of deterring people.

SABRA LANE: Malcolm Turnbull also says the Federal Government's starting to look like it's covering
up the events of last Thursday on Ashmore Reef by withholding information on what led to the
explosion.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: When governments know the facts, and this Government does know the facts and has
known the facts for some time, and declines to make them public. After a time, even the most
devoted admirers of the Rudd Government start to wonder why they're not fessing up and putting the
facts on the table and it starts to look like a cover-up.

SABRA LANE: It's been widely reported that the Australian Federal Police advised the Government a
change in its immigration policies would lead to an increase in asylum seekers. Again, Immigration
Minister, Senator Chris Evans.

CHRIS EVANS: I have seen the press reports that there was a report prepared by the AFP. I have no
knowledge of that and haven't seen it.

SABRA LANE: You're not curious enough to ask for it?

CHRIS EVANS: Well, my reporting comes through my department, I'm not the Minister for the AFP - but
I have no knowledge of any such report and I haven't seen any such report.

SABRA LANE: But it concerns your portfolio, you're still not interested in receiving such a report
if it exists?

CHRIS EVANS: Well we receive a lot of advice and we wouldn't discuss that advice anyway - but when
asked have I seen this alleged report, the answer is no.

SABRA LANE: Turning to the incident of Ashmore Reef last week, can you tell us any new information?

CHRIS EVANS: Not really. As I say, the Government's been very clear that we're not going to be
commenting on the causes of this terrible explosion. I noticed the Northern Territory coroner has
released a statement in the last few hours trying to give as much information as he felt was
possible.

The Government's keen for any information that doesn't interfere with the proper legal processes
being released and I think the defence video released yesterday is part of that attempt to provide
information.

But clearly this is a scene of a terrible accident, a potential crime scene, and until such time as
the Northern Territory Police complete their investigations and the coroner completes their
inquiries I don't think it would be sensible for ministers of the Crown to be speculating as to
what happened.

SABRA LANE: Certainly I think the community understands that a decision by the Federal Government
to hold off for 24 hours on releasing information - but now that four days have passed it gives the
perception that the Government is trying to shut down any debate because you might be concerned it
could reflect poorly on the Government.

CHRIS EVANS: Well that's just not true. I mean the reality is I don't know what happened. I don't
think any minister, and federal minister knows what happened. Until such time as the Northern
Territory Police and the other authorities complete their enquiries, we don't know and there's
speculation around and people want to know what happened, I want to know what happened.

But the speculation doesn't help and it certainly wouldn't be useful for anyone in the Government
to pretend that they knew when they don't.

SABRA LANE: Well let's talk about some information that was publicly released on Thursday. The
commander of Border Protection said that the asylum seekers had been told they were going to
Christmas Island and that there were no signs of anxiety on board the boat.

Yet the commander of HMAS Albany told reporters on the weekend that at no time during the previous
24 hours to the explosion were the asylum seekers and crew informed they would be taken to
Christmas Island.

What's correct?

CHRIS EVANS: I have no idea which is correct. I think this reflects the earlier discussion we had
that it would be inappropriate to comment when one doesn't understand what occurred. Clearly that
reporting indicates that there seems to be some disagreement or misunderstanding about what was
said.

And that's exactly why you need a proper investigation to reach appropriate conclusions and why
speculation in the meantime is just, inappropriate.

PETER CAVE: The Immigration Minister Chris Evans speaking there to Sabra Lane.