KRudd sez he has “no credibility”
What puzzles me is how this empty suit denies his responsibility Â for the Â Mohammedan invasion and launches ad hominem attacks on Philip Â Ruddock instead. Is he totally detached from reality or is this the beginning of his undoing? And Turnbull, supposedly leader of the opposition, is nowhere to be seen or heard.
Here’s the latest:
The navy hasÂ intercepted another boatload of suspected asylum seekers off Australia’s north-west coastline. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said the boat was carrying about 56 passengers including two young children and two crew.
It was intercepted on Monday afternoon north-west of Ashmore Reef.
That’s another 360 people in seven boats in just three weeks. The full list of arrivalsÂ here. Already this is theÂ fourth biggest yearly intake of boat people since 1976.
We’ve now had 1648 illegal boat people land this year – or 10 times the number last year – at an estimated cost ofÂ $65 million. At least 25 have died trying to get here.Â AsÂ I said just yesterday, every new boat now becomes an issue for this Government, which controversially softened the laws against boat people last year.
Correction: at long last, Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the opposition shows a sign of life:
What we have to do now is recognise that (Rudd’s) policies have failed and have a thorough independent inquiry to assess what can be done to protect our borders once again…
Paul Maley and Amanda O’Brien / The Australian
Customs officials board a boatload of asylum-seekers last Friday.
KEVIN Rudd and the architect of the Howard government’s Pacific Solution, Philip Ruddock, yesterday clashed over whose administration was tougher on boatpeople, with Mr Ruddock claiming recent policy changes left Australia exposed to a “pipeline” of 10,000 unauthorised arrivals a year. (Each and everyone a Labor voter. Why should KRudd be worried?ed)
As Coalition figures lined up yesterday to take advantage of the surge in boatpeople, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett slammed the decision to grant asylum to 42 Afghan men whose boat blew up following an act of sabotage.
But the Coalition’s criticism drew a counter-attack from the Prime Minister, who said yesterday the Howard government’s tough rhetoric on asylum-seekers had not been backed by results.
“I draw your collective attention as to what happened to all those folk who were on the Tampa at the time when I seem to recall the then prime minister saying that none of these individuals would ever set foot on Australia or words to that effect,” Mr Rudd said. “I think that about half the Tampa caseload ended up in Australia by one means or another, and the rest as they say is history.”
Speaking in Sydney yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull said there was no question Mr Rudd had softened the policies of the previous government, a development that people-smugglers had noticed and which they were using as a marketing tool. “We’ve seen in the media numerous examples of that being confirmed,” he said. “The people-smugglers are selling the message Australia is a soft target. That is being believed by their would-be customers.”
A total of 1809 asylum seekers have been intercepted in boats since the surge in arrivals began in September last year after the government started unwinding the Howard government’s border protection policies.
Mr Barnett slammed the Rudd government for granting the 42 men asylum ahead of the coronial inquiry set up to investigate the fatal fire near Ashmore Reef in April, which police say was deliberately lit. “I think a full inquiry should be completed, and certainly anyone who was implicated in that should not be given the right to stay in Australia”, Mr Barnett told Fairfax Radio.
But Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday rejected the charge. “That’s a very uninformed comment,” he said. “The Northern Territory police found they had no basis to charge anyone.”
Mr Barnett has been critical of the government’s handling of the explosion, accusing it of excessive secrecy. In the hours after the blast, he said the incident occurred after those on board poured petrol on the deck of the vessel.
Senator Evans said yesterday the police could still prosecute anyone found responsible, and if necessary the government could revoke their visas. He said the Northern Territory police had been consulted about the decision and were “comfortable” with granting the men visas.
“The views of the NT police are more important to me than Mr Barnett’s uninformed view,” Senator Evans said.
On April 16, five asylum-seekers were killed when the boat they were travelling on exploded off Ashmore Reef. An investigation by the Territory police concluded the fire had probably been deliberately lit, but they were unable to find out who was responsible, or lay charges.
A coronial inquest is expected in January.
Mr Barnett said yesterday the police investigation had vindicated his remarks. He accused the federal government of sanitising the truth, saying it was in possession of the same information as he was when he made his original remarks.
“I knew what I said at the time was accurate. I was quoting from a formal report from the emergency personnel at the site. The same report went to the commonwealth government,” he said last week.
He said the whole story about the fire would eventually come out. “Bear in mind there were Australian naval personnel on that boat – four of whom were injured … who would have seen what happened.
“At the time, I made the comment that fuel had been spread on the boat. That’s now proved to be the case.”
The Rudd government is pouring millions of dollars into combatting people-smuggling following a surge in arrivals that began last year. The numbers are likely to overwhelm the immigration detention centre at Christmas Island and are a potential political liability for the government as it moves into an election year.
Yesterday, Mr Ruddock said there would soon be up to 10,000 people a year in transit to Australia via people-smuggling routes.
“If the numbers keep on increasing at the rate they have been, I think the government will be looking at a pipeline of 10,000 a year or more,” he said.
“They were the sort of numbers we were looking at when we decided we had to send a clear and unambiguous signal.”
So far this year, 1648 passengers and 64 crew have arrived by boat.
Additional reporting: Matthew Franklin