Tony Abbot says Australia is committed “to stop the boats”

Tony Abbot says Australia is committed “to stop the boats”

Written by Bella Dalima

09 Jul, 2014 | 7:03 pm

Australian media reports say that the Australian government has no intention of sending a boat of 153 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, nor are the authorities in Sri Lanka preparing to receive them.

Officials in Tamil Nadu, have denied the boat left from their waters, indicating a reluctance to accept any returnees.

The matter is now before the Australian High Court.

Speaking to Australia’s Nine Network, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, today, reiterated his government’s determination to stop the people smuggling trade.

Autralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said:

[quote] I won’t talk about on the water operations. That’s to give aid and comfort to the people smugglers and that’s not something I’m going to do. What I am going to do though… is re-iterate the government’s absolute determination, to stop the boats, because if we stop the boats, we stop the deaths. And that is why it is absolutely critically important, that operation sovereign borders continues to succeed.[/quote]

Operation Sovereign Borders is a central command structure of the Australian Defence Force, aimed at stopping maritime arrivals of asylum seekers to Australia.

The operation was an election policy of the Coalition, which commenced on 18 September 2013 after the election of the Abbott Government at the 2013 federal election.

The operation is an attempt to address issues surrounding people smuggling through initiatives including off-shore processing on Manus and Nauru and resettlement in countries other than Australia, namely, Papua New Guinea.

Speaking to News 1st, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia, said no request has been made by the Australian authorities, for Sri Lanka to accept the 153 asylum seekers.

Admiral Samarasinghe furthermore, noted that this matter concerns the Australian government and does not concern Sri Lanka.

When asked about if the Australia authorities do make such a request, Admiral Samarasinghe refused to comment on the matter.

The matter of the Australian government’s tough policy was brought up in the Australian senate too, where Governemnt Senate Leader Eric Abetz, gave an impassioned defence.

Government Senate Leader, Eric Abetz said;

[quote]In relation to some of the assertions being made about Sri Lanka, it is my understanding that when people are returned to Sri Lanka, the police interview them, it is an offence to leave Sri Lanka illegally, but that is a process that is dealt with under Sri Lankan law. I don’t believe that people are jailed indefinitely on return. And do you know who said all those words? The former Minister, Minister Bowen.  I see no sense of social justice, whatsoever, in giving priority, to those that bypass safe haven after safe haven after safe haven, and then pay a criminal to get them to the front of the queue[/quote]

Reports indicate that the boat in question was intercepted by Australian authorities, outside Australia’s migration zone, about 19 kilometres from Christmas Island.

The 153 asylum seekers, including 37 children, are reportedly at present on the high seas, aboard an Australian Customs vessel.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, notes that the Australian government does have the right to turn back asylum seekers intercepted outside the migration zone.

Correspondents say, any handover would negatively impact Australia’s image in the eyes of the international community.



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