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Debus admits Labors policy change sends soft message to smugglers.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Thursday 23 April 2009

Debus admits Labors policy change sends soft message to smugglers

Minister Debus has now acknowledged the truth in the words of the Ambassador for Indonesia Mr Primo Alui Joelianto in an interview with Neil Mitchell on 3AW this morning.

This morning Neil Mitchell asked Minister Debus if he rejected the claims of Mr Primo Alui Joelianto that people smugglers were responding to changes in policy as they took their cash from customers and pushed them off in unseaworthy vessels.

Mr Mitchell asked: “Do you accept they’re [people smugglers] using the changed policies to drum up business?”

Mr Debus response was: “I think that some of them could be doing that, but it’s of no consequence.”

Dr Sharman Stone, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship said if Minister Debus can not understand the seriousness of this current problem and the causes and effect, then perhaps Prime Minister Rudd should re-examine who he has left in charge of Home Security.

“While we have a government that still refuses to acknowledge the significance of the problem and the trigger causing that problem, we will continue to see people smuggling and the breakdown in our border security,” Dr Stone said.

“The Rudd Government has failed to protect our borders. By softening the border protection regime in August last year Mr Rudd sent the wrong message to people smugglers.”

“The facts speak for themselves. Now 14 boats with over 485 unauthorised arrivals have arrived since the Rudd Government softened Australia’s border protection policies and slashed departmental resources.”

“Clearly the Indonesians are becoming more alarmed at their country being used as the last staging post for the people smugglers push into Australia.”

“More assistance needs to be given to Indonesia to address the thousands who are now queued in their country.”

“The extradition of the people smuggler arrested last year is a sign of the cooperation that Indonesia is offering to Australia. As well, they have already intercepted some 17 boats on our behalf.”

“I urge the Rudd Government to reassess its policies and get serious about protecting Australia’s borders,” Dr Stone said.

Media enquiries: Jo Shannon 071718110