Karen Andrews has released a five-point border-protection plan for the Liberal party, pledging anti-people smuggling Operation Sovereign Borders will remain in place.
“When the last Labor government dismantled our strong and effective border policies, lives were lost, chaos erupted and thousands of children were locked up in detention,” the home affairs minister claimed, arguing temporary protection visas were under threat of being abolished by a new Labor government.
Andrews published a statement on Friday warning of the threat a Labor government posed to the ‘strong and proven policy that saves lives’.
“Make no mistake, a change of government means a change to Australia’s strong border protection policies,” Andrews said.
“The Coalition’s strong border policies stopped the boats, ending deaths at sea and the illegal trade of people smuggling.”
Today the Greens launched their “border” policy and have confirmed that in a power sharing deal with Labor they would demand the dismantling of Operation Sovereign Borders- including abolishing the Australian Border Force! We just can’t risk our borders with Labor and the Greens. pic.twitter.com/wnlfsD4cOg
— Karen Andrews MP (@karenandrewsmp) May 12, 2022
The Coalition’s border protection pledges also include cementing policies such as regional processing, boat turn-backs where it is safe to do so and temporary protection visas.
There is a plan to boost the number of frontline border staff to prevent illegal goods like drugs and weapons from being trafficked into Australia, and the government says it will also provide support for genuine refugees if returned to power.
Scott Morrison, who has always held the mantle as ‘the man who turned back the boats’ with pride, believes Operation Sovereign Borders is an either-or proposition: with it, Australian borders are strong, and without it they are weak.
His re-elected government has pledged to keep the Operation in place, as well as to pass new laws to charge foreign criminals for the cost of their own immigration detention.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke said detaining foreign criminals in Australia meant such criminals received ‘free rent, food and medical treatment while we go through the process of deporting them’. The Coalition would take a hard-line approach to see more of these people deported, he said.
“We have cancelled or refused visas to over 10,000 serious criminals through our reforms to the Character Test and as we go through the process of deporting even more, the free ride they are getting now ends,” Hawke said.
The Liberal party claims more than 500 people housed in Australian detention centres during the last Labor government went on to receive criminal convictions upon their release. There is no mention as to how being detained may have contributed to the criminal offending.