Immigration debate 'set to flare again'

The debate about asylum seekers could flare again as Australia signals its doors are again open to people smugglers, former immigration minister Philip Ruddock says. Mr Ruddock, one of the key architects of the previous Howard government's hardline policy against asylum seekers, made the warning following an increase in boat activity in recent months. "I think we're about to see a very real and substantial debate about these issues in the Australian community again," he told reporters on Wednesday.

The federal government had relaxed measures aimed at effective border protection, he said. That was likely to send signals abroad that Australia was a more attractive destination for people smugglers, Mr Ruddock said.

People smugglers were corrupt, had little care for people's lives, and looked very closely at the opportunities that were open to them. "I'm sure that smugglers would be saying to people, `Look if we can get you into Australia, you'll be able to remain permanently, that's a very different outcome to what was in place."


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