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More proof of Labor's soft border protection policies.



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Media contact: Penny Watts (02) 60213264 0428 213 264 penny.watts@aph.gov.au

The Hon SUSSAN LEY MP Federal Member for Farrer Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs

28 June 2009 MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

More proof of Labor’s soft border protection policies

Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs, Sussan Ley, said today‟s unauthorised boat arrival - which has brought the total asylum seekers to arrive on our shores since the Rudd Government softened border protection policies to more than 900 - is proof that Labor is sending the wrong message to people smugglers.

The boat arrival, with almost 200 people on board, will seriously stretch the resources and capacity of border protection even further after $58.1 million was cut from the Customs budget by Kevin Rudd and Labor.

Ms Ley said the Government did not appear to have a plan and was acting reactively by employing surveillance to spot the boats, and sending the Navy to intercept them, then making an announcement about how well border protection was working.

“The cost of this exercise is astronomical, running into hundreds of thousands of dollars a day,” Ms Ley said.

“The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is severely stretched, with so many resources devoted to this one pocket of ocean near Christmas Island.”

In April, the Opposition called for an independent inquiry to examine any intelligence reports provided by the Australian Federal Police, the impact of the Government's policies on people smuggling, and whether co-operation between countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka was adequate.

The Opposition is again renewing those calls.

“Unfortunately, budget cutbacks have moved resources to Border Protection Command and the monitoring and management of unauthorised arrivals,” Ms Ley said.

“Both Government and Opposition agree that having the boats not leave in the first place - and putting so many lives at risk - would be a far better option.

“However, the Government has only allocated a paltry amount to so-called „International Engagement and Capacity Building‟ in the last Budget - clearly not enough to support Sri Lanka and Indonesia in their efforts.”