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Labor's Sri Lanka boat surge continues with another arrival at Cocos

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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling LABOR'S SRI LANKAN BOAT SURGE CONTINUES WITH ANOTHER ARRIVAL AT COCOS September 28, 2012

The illegal arrival of another boat at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, presumably carrying Sri Lankan passengers, highlights once again the need for Labor to stop making excuses and hold talks with Sri Lanka on stopping the flow, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Morrison and Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection, Michael Keenan said today.

“The Coalition has already called on the Government to have urgent talks with Sri Lanka to arrange for the immediate and safe return of people intercepted outside our waters back to Sri Lanka to send a clear message that Australia’s borders are closed. Labor has rejected this proposal outright,” Mr Morrison said.

“The Coalition's policy to turn back would only apply to those on vessels intercepted outside our waters and would provide for the safe return of persons to Sri Lanka. The Coalition holds the view that the UN Refugee Convention does not have extra territorial application, as has been found by both the US Supreme Court and UK House of Lords.

“The policy would be implemented as part of a set of arrangements we would seek to confirm with the Sri Lankan Government to assist with the peaceful rebuilding of the country, now that the civil war has long since concluded.

“Safe return policies for Vietnamese were a key part of the regional response to the Indochinese Refugee crisis in the late 1980s. There is no reason why similar policies cannot now be put in place in Sri Lanka.

“The UNHCR is already sending hundreds of refugees back to Sri Lanka as part of the rebuilding process. Labor's stubborn refusal to even countenance talks means we will continue to be seen as a soft touch by Sri Lankans seeking permanent residence in Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Keenan said: “This latest arrival is the 9th boat in the past week with over 700 people being smuggled across our borders on these vessels - 200 people more have arrived illegally this week than what Labor has budgeted for the entire month of September.

“Not only is this debacle at our borders costing the Australian taxpayer a fortune but it is placing immense pressure on our Border Protection Command (BPC) officers, who are being inundated with boat arrivals at an exceedingly rapid rate.

“Aside from the increasing numbers of arrivals, Border Protection Command's job is made even harder by the lack of funding and staff that has been continually stripped from the agency ever since Labor came to office.

“The Government must restore the cuts that they have made to our frontline border protection agencies to relieve the strain put on their overstretched resources,” Mr Keenan said.

© Authorised by Michael Keenan MP, 203 Wanneroo Road, Tuart Hill WA 6060