Australia: Labor rejects ban on boat arrivals

Malcolm Turnbull will need the backing of Pauline Hanson and other crossbenchers for a crackdown on asylum-seeker visas after Labor decided to oppose government legislation.


The Labor caucus decision on Tuesday to reject the lifetime visa ban on asylum seekers who use people smugglers sparked a furious government attack in parliament.

The laws would effectively mean that if an asylum seeker or refugee who arrived on a boat is resettled in another country, they will never be able to come to Australia on a tourism, business or any other sort of visa without the immigration minister’s special permission.

In announcing the decision, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would not support the ‘desperate gesture by a floundering government’.

‘We are on a unity ticket with the government to stop the people smugglers, but we are not on a unity ticket to stop the tourists,’ he said.

BS. No one wants to stop the tourists.

The prime minister said Labor was trivialising asylum-seeker deaths at sea.

‘We know the leader of the opposition is giving in again to the Left of his party just as Kevin Rudd did in 2008 and 2009,’ Mr Turnbull said.

As the government was working on finding third countries for resettlement it was important to send an ‘unequivocal signal’ to people smugglers that the people they are exploiting will never come to Australia, he said.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton slammed the opposition leader accusing him of ‘pandering to the left of his party’.

‘He’s abandoned the blue collar workers to make sure that he can support the Green voters,’ he told Sky News.

‘Bill shorten has demonstrated, by his announcement this week, that he won’t support this legislation that he’s completely beholden to the left of his party,’

My Dutton highlighted recent polls showing more than half of Labor voters are in favour of the Turnbull government’s border protection policy.

‘He’s going down the same well-trodden path that Kevin Rudd went down which resulted in 50,000 people coming in 800 boats and 1200 drowning at sea,’ he said.

‘He now frankly has less credibility on border protection policy.’

The immigration minister assured the federal government is working on resettling refugees already on Manus Island and Nauru.

‘We are working on third country settlement we do want to get people out of Manus and Nauru,’ he told Sky News.

‘We want to do it in a way that doesn’t fill the vacancies that will be created by sending those people to third countries.’

Labor said at no time had the government said the legislation was directly connected to a pending deal with a third country.

Mr Shorten said the idea of a citizen of Canada or the United States not being allowed to visit Australia 30 or 40 years down the track was unacceptable.

‘In many ways the government’s latest proposal is a solution looking for the problem,’ he said.


The latest Essential poll shows 56 per cent of voters support the laws, with 29 per cent disapproving and 15 per cent unsure. This includes 52 per cent of Labor voters.

Amnesty International described the government’s plan as ‘another layer of cruelty’ in a deliberately abusive policy.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said there were economic reasons for stopping the boats, as under Labor the immigration budget had blown out by $11 billion.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said there were security reasons for the new laws.

‘It is very well known that some of the perpetrators of recent terror attacks in Europe have entered the target countries illegally,’ he told parliament.


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