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Labor strengthens Border Protection Bill.

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ROGER PRICE MP Federal Member for Chifley


Labor supports the Federal Government’s new package of immigration legislation following the re-writing of the original Border Protection Bill to take into account Labor demands, Federal Member for Chifley Roger Price MP said today.

“I know that a number of my constituents were upset with our original decision”, Mr Price said.

“Labor’s position on the original Border Protection Bill has been completely vindicated. The original bill was a piece of legislation that Saddam Hussein would have been proud of”, Mr Price said.

“We said that the original, hastily prepared legislation was flawed, probably unconstitutional and unacceptable. The government has now agreed and has come up with new legislation that we can support”, Mr Price said.

”We took a lot of heat and pain over our decision to knock back the original legislation, but it was worth it because now we have forced the Government to come up with a more workable and acceptable package”, Mr Price added.

Under the old Bill, all existing criminal and civil laws could be overridden and under the old Bill there was the prospect of people being towed out to sea in leaky boats.

“All the concerns we raised about the old Bill have been answered and the new legislation resembles the original legislation in name only”, Mr Price said.

“If John Howard had only listened then we could have saved two weeks”, he said.

There is still a lot of work to be done to find an effective, long-term solution to the problem of people smuggling and illegal immigration.

“John Howard doesn’t have a long-term solution - only a solution pitched at the forthcoming federal election”, Mr Price said.

Labor recognises that we need to deal with this problem at its source. It has to be an international effort and it has to include working with Indonesia to stop people before they set out from Indonesian shores. We have to get Indonesian agreement to accept the return of boat people for proper processing in the Indonesian camps.

Mr Price said the events surrounding asylum seekers over recent weeks made it more important than ever for Kim Beazley’s plan for an Australian Coast Guard to be implemented.

“Our Coast Guard will take overall responsibility for our coastal surveillance and protection. It will be a coordinated approach to people smuggling, drugs and quarantine issues. It will be a maritime police force which will also be involved in search and rescue operations as well environmental protection”, Mr Price concluded.

Ends 19 September 2001

Contact: Paul Sekhon on 6277 4872 or 0409 905 445