Friday 30th March 2012
Too many people turning up on too many boats because of Labor’s border protection failures and their denial of these failures, led to the collapse of Australia’s immigration detention network, according to the Coalition members of the Joint Select Committee Inquiry that reported today.
“The riots that took place a year ago appalled our nation. These riots were the inevitable consequence of Labor’s decision to abandon a border protection regime that worked and the denial that they had a problem as every boat arrived. That denial continues to this day,” Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Morrison said today.
“Our immigration detention network failed as a result of the Labor Government’s wilful and negligent dismantling of the Howard Government’s strong border protection policies which resulted in too many boats arriving,” he said.
“When we left office there were just four people in detention in Australia who arrived by boat. When the riots erupted on Christmas Island there were more than 6,500 boat arrivals in the system.
“Prior to 2008, the number of incidents in our detention network was negligible because the boats had stopped. The system was stable and under control.
“Labor’s border protection failures energised people smugglers to create a $150 million business over the last three and a half years. Our immigration detention network was simply unable to cope with the resulting flow of boats.
“Labor’s denial of their self made crisis on our borders put the Government in a state of paralysis. The combination of failed measures such as the asylum freeze, the East Timor debacle and their refusal to address the severe capacity constraints before the 2010 election created a toxic cocktail that fuelled the riots on Christmas Island.
“After the election the Government refused to prepare themselves for the inevitable riots headed their way, with critical security infrastructure upgrades ignored, response procedures not put in place and total confusion when it came to the responsibilities of police, DIAC and Serco.
“The Coalition has taken a constructive approach to the inquiry and have supported half of the recommendations of the majority report. However this report, by Labor the Greens and Mr Oakeshott, completely ignores the role of the government’s failed border protection policies.
“The Coalition has consistently maintained that the combination of strong border protection policies and mandatory detention is critical to avoid the chaos that has occurred in our detention network under this Government’s failed and non-existent border protection policies.
“When you are dealing with very few people in the detention systems, as was the case in November 2007, meeting a ninety day deadline to assess people’s claims is totally achievable. When you have filled the network with over 6,500 detainees, because of your failed border policies and add in a six month asylum freeze for good measure, it is virtually impossible.
“That’s why the Coalition report calls for the immediate restoration of the Howard Government’s strong border protection policies. Only the Coalition’s proven border protection measures can restore integrity and control to our borders and ultimately to our detention system,” Mr Morrison said.
*** Key findings of the Coalition’s dissenting report attached. Full report available here ***
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