Federal Politics Hard News Story for the area of Geelong

Luke Michael                               Federal government, Asylum seeker boats

22/8/15

Corio’s federal MP and Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Richard Marles has said Labor will go to the next election vowing to turn back asylum seeker boats.

This policy shift is designed to stop the flow of boats to Australia and prevent asylum seekers dying at sea, after 1200 deaths during the previous Labor Government.

The move has caused tensions within the party, as Labor’s left faction opposes boat turn backs.

It is not known how this policy change will affect the Labor Party’s election prospects but a Geelong refugee group has condemned the move.

Combined Refugee Action Group spokesperson Tim Gooden said turning back boats would not stop asylum seekers from trying to reach Australia.

“It doesn’t actually stop people getting on boats, it just stops them getting here,” Gooden said.

“It just means going back somewhere else. It doesn’t in any way help the situation.”

He said it was a Labor Party ploy to win votes, with no regard to its moral consequences.

“It’s all about political wedging, politicians trying to gain votes by looking tough,” Gooden said.

“They just want to make the public fearful of refugees. Everybody has to be scared of something, because it stops people asking the real questions.”

Mr Marles was unavailable to comment, but in a media release he said the move made sure Labor learnt from its previous mistakes.

“We saw over the time of the former Labor Government 1,200 people lose their lives at sea,” Mr Marles said.

“There is simply no way that a future Labor Government can re-open this journey.”

“Because what this journey ultimately does is ensure less refugees come here and more asylum seekers die, and there is nothing compassionate about that.”

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