AUSTRALIA’S NEW ALP government has pledged to “do more” to prevent asylum seekers from arriving by boat in Australia, and to stop them from entering the country by land.
In a statement on Wednesday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said he was “delighted” to be re-elected as prime minister after winning the election by a landslide.
“I am confident that we can bring this issue under control,” he said.
“Australia has been a destination for people fleeing persecution and war for more than a century, and we have an obligation to protect its people.”
Mr Morrison said the government would introduce new policies to stop asylum seekers entering Australia by land, including a crackdown on “human smuggling”, a new $4 million fund to assist asylum seekers, and a $15 million program to assist those who have been forced to flee their home country.
“Australia has the greatest numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution around the world and I want to make sure that this country is not the last to be hit by a wave of people attempting to cross our borders,” he added.
“We will be doing more to stop these people from entering Australia and, more importantly, we will be making sure that the boat people that are coming to Australia have no choice but to return home.”
Mr Abbott, who has been criticised by rights groups for his handling of asylum seekers in recent months, has been at loggerheads with the country’s biggest Labor party, the Liberal Party, and his own government for months over the asylum seekers’ issue.
He has said the issue of asylum is not a priority and that the government should focus on securing the borders and improving security.
“It is an issue we all should be focused on,” Mr Abbott said on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison told reporters the government was committed to protecting asylum seekers and stopping them from reaching Australia by boat.
“There will be more in the way of policy changes and action on the boat issue that I can’t talk about, but we are very confident that the measures we have announced will go a long way to help ensure that those boats are stopped,” he told reporters.
“Our focus in the last six months has been on securing our borders and protecting our people from the boats that are arriving.”
Mr Rudd was re-electing as prime Minister after winning an election by more than 20,000 votes, more than double the Liberal’s 2.5 million vote haul.
Mr Abbott had promised to introduce a $2 billion fund to help asylum seekers.
“These are our people,” Mr Morrison said.
They are fleeing violence.””
They are fleeing persecution, they are fleeing war.
They are fleeing violence.”
He said the Government would increase the cost of asylum seeker visas to $25,000 and make changes to the Immigration Act to make it easier for asylum seekers to apply for visas.
“The Government is determined to stop the boats from coming to this country,” Mr Abbot said.
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