Liberal MP Backs Rudd On Asylum Policy

Liberal MP backs Rudd on asylum policy

Ms Moylan says an increase in boat arrivals is not a result of Government policy. (AAP: Australian Customs and Border Protection)

By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers
Posted Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:02pm AEST
Updated Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:48pm AEST

A Liberal backbencher who strongly opposed parts of the Howard government's asylum seeker stance has backed the Government's claim that global issues are responsible for a recent spike in unauthorised arrivals and not domestic policy.

Her comments come as Opposition Leader Malcom Turnbull has called on the Government to change its asylum seeker policies, saying they are not working.

A political row has erupted over the Government's approach to asylum seekers after yesterday's explosion on a boat which killed three asylum seekers and injured dozens of others.

The Government has accused the Opposition of politicising the fatal boat blast after Immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said yesterday's events were directly linked to Government policy.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says he does not believe the Government is responsible for the tragedy but has criticised it for taking a softer policy approach after it dismantled the Coalition's “Pacific Solution”, abolished temporary protection visas and changed mandatory detention laws.

Six boats have reached Australian waters this year.

Western Australian MP Judi Moylan was part of a group of four dissident MPs who was opposed to the Pacific Solution and the mandatory detention of women and children.

The Member for Pearce says she is happy with the Government's current policies and does not believe they are responsible for the rise.

“I've no doubt that people engaged in people trafficking, which is a highly lucrative business, watch all the domestic policies of all countries quite closely and you'd be foolish to say that there's no link at all,” she told ABC News Online.

“But I don't think that it is domestic policy driving this latest flood.

“I think you will see like it was previously that it is events in Afghanistan.”

Ms Molyan stopped short of directly criticising Ms Stone over her comments but said it was important to keep separate the debate over border protection and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Asked if she thought the Coalition was playing politics with the issue she replied: “People have differing views but the important thing is that we separate out these two issues.

“The Coalition has every right to speak out on policy in relation to border protection but we must resist any urge to scare monger around the issue of asylum seekers.”

But Mr Turnbull says the Government has gone soft on border protection policies and is putting lives at risk.

“Since August last year when the Labor Government changed our policies, softened them … we've seen a dramatic increase in unauthorised boat arrivals,” he said.

“They have been delivering far too many people to Australia, putting far too many lives at risk – not just the lives of their passengers, but also the lives of the Defence personnel who have to deal with them on the high seas.

“I have called on Mr Rudd to sit down with us and discuss how we can agree on new policies – because his are not working.”

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the Government is taking a tough line on people smugglers, whom he described as the “scum of the earth” and said should “rot in hell.”


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