Turnbull Wants People Smuggling Inquiry

Turnbull wants people smuggling inquiry

Larine Statham
April 28, 2009

The federal opposition wants an independent inquiry into the increase in cases of people smuggling into Australia.

The coalition says the Rudd government's softened stance on border protection is encouraging people smuggling, and has called for an inquiry into the relationship between the laws and the arrival of 541 asylum seekers since their introduction in August last year.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said the coalition had repeatedly warned the government that softening its stance on border protection would compromise the security of Australian borders and the integrity of the country's “generous but strictly controlled refugee and humanitarian settler program”.

“The issue of border protection becomes more important all the time,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“We've had 15 boats arrive and well over 500 illegal arrivals and that is more than twice the number that had arrived in the previous six years – this has been a massive increase.

“The government says (the increase) has got nothing to do with the change of policy.

“The policy of the Australian government should be no boats – that's my policy.

“People smuggling is a terrible business. It is a pernicious trade that endangers human life.”

Mr Turnbull said the inquiry should be headed by an independent immigration and border protection expert.

“The Australian people are entitled to know what advice the government's received and what advice it's ignored, if it has ignored it and what the impact of this change of policy has been,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said the former Howard government's policies on border protection “appeared to work”.

“(Prime Minister Kevin) Rudd's policy is not working because the boats are arriving in ever increasing numbers,” he said.