By JR on Saturday, January 21, 2012
A COALITION government will order the navy to turn around asylum-seeker boats and return them to Indonesia in an assertion of Australian border protection, Tony Abbott revealed. The Opposition Leader is determined to impose a new and tougher policy whereby Australia uses its navy to secure its borders.
If elected prime minister, Mr Abbott will tell Jakarta Australia will no longer passively accept the arrival of asylum-seeker boats from that country, The Australian reported last night.
A radical policy departure, this has far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for Australia-Indonesia relations.
In recent talks with his colleagues, Mr Abbott said: "This is a test of wills and Australia has lost. "What counts is what the Australian government does, not what it says. "It is time for Australia to adopt turning the boats as its core policy."
Mr Abbott said this would involve an increase in the number of naval vessels to force the boats back, including the capacity to remove asylum-seekers from deliberately sabotaged boats before repairing those vessels to enable the boatpeople to be returned to Indonesia.
The Coalition has also ruled out a political deal to revive Labour's Malaysia Solution and is planning a tougher regimen of temporary protection visas.
This includes a quota on the number of permanent visas issued to temporary protection visa holders to favour authorised asylum-seekers and to provide a disincentive to people making the journey by boat.