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Latham: tough words but limp wrist.

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Latham: Tough Words but Limp Wrist

VPS 027/2004

Mark Latham's juggling act to convince the Australian public that he is tough on border protection while appeasing Carmen Lawrence will only bring disaster for Australia's border security.

Despite the tough words, Mr Latham's border protection policy has all the substance of puff pastry. Mr Latham wants to talk the talk but last week's announcement clearly shows that backroom deals have already been done. In a practical sense, Mr Latham has already caved into Carmen Lawrence and the draft motions being debated today are meaningless.

In fact, in a misguided attempt to pander to the Left, his new policy direction will tear down the barriers that discourage people smugglers.

The people smugglers must be rubbing their hands with glee.

Mr Latham's changes to TPVs will significantly weaken the deterrence factor that is now built into the system and dramatically increase the number of people without legitimate claims.

By shortening TPVs to two years and putting the burden of proof onto the Australian Government, getting ferried in by a people smuggler will look like a very attractive option.

Also, by requiring that all boats be brought to Australia and enlarging the Migration Zone, Labor's policy almost guarantees that people smugglers' customers will set foot in our Migration Zone with the likelihood of Permanent Residency substantially increased.

People smuggling is simply a numbers game. Whether a people smuggling business flourishes depends on the likelihood that a customer will set foot in our Migration Zone and the likelihood of permanent residency being awarded.

Mr Latham's proposals will change the odds and Australia will be the loser.

While the Australian Government appreciates Labor's acknowledgment in their Draft National Platform 2004 (p.107) that 'Australia has one of the world's most generous humanitarian programs', we will not stand by and allow Labor to reinvigorate the people smuggling marketplace.

30 January 2004