Gillard government's immigration policy acknowledged as "killing" her government
As well it might. Australia's recent acquisition of a new red-headed Prime Minister has done NOTHING to stop the constant flow of boat-borne illegals
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard's asylum seeker policy was dealt another major blow yesterday after her Immigration Minister said the issue was "killing the Government". Immigration Minister Chris Evans was caught out in an unguarded moment at a university conference in Sydney discussing one of the key issues of the forthcoming election.
His comments came as border protection forces intercepted the 147th asylum seeker boat in two years - and the third since Sunday night.
Senator Evans was attending a conference for immigration specialists hosted by the University of NSW when he was asked how politically toxic the asylum seeker debate was. He said one of his "greatest failures" as Immigration Minister was "losing control" of the immigration debate, according to a 2UE reporter who, unknown to Senator Evans, was at the conference.
He said the debate was "killing the Government", which will be seen as an admission that Prime Minister Gillard's attempt to find a host for an offshore refugee procesing centre has not diminished voter anger on the issue. Government sources insisted Senator Evans had been referring to policy under the former prime minister Kevin Rudd but it appeared he was referring to the present.
"I have previously acknowledged that this has been a difficult debate for the Government over a long period of time and that there has been a level of public concern surrounding the issue," Senator Mr Evans said in a statement late yesterday. "The debate has changed substantially since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister and seized the opportunity to confront the issue and speak honestly and frankly with the Australian people."
But Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the Government of being more interested in "polls and spin" than "real action". "It is Labor's policies that have failed, not their message nor their messenger," Mr Morrison said.
Senator Evans said the Labor Party now had a "clear way forward under Prime Minister Gillard". "We are focused on developing a regional protection framework and are already engaged in discussions with East Timor," he said.
Mr Morrison said Senator Evans' biggest failure had been to wind back the border protection regime he inherited from the Howard government, and referred to the 147 "illegal boats" and the more than 7000 asylum seekers who had arrived since then.
The latest boatload of suspected asylum seekers was intercepted yesterday morning, northwest of Browse Island in the Indian Ocean. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said 84 passengers and three crew were on board. Since Sunday, 192 asylum seekers have been re-routed to Christmas Island.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).