From 2008 to 2013 Australia faced an illegal migration crisis – more than 50,000 people were trafficked by people smugglers into this country. The nation will be dealing with the legacy of this disastrous policy failure for years to come.
It started with a handful of boats in 2008, when Labor arrogantly and misguidedly dismantled the Howard Government’s successful border protection measures. The flow escalated dramatically over ensuing years.
On 15 December 2010, Australians watched horrified as a flimsy wooden boat was repeatedly slammed into the cliffs of Christmas Island by heavy seas. Fifty of the 89 people on board – men, women and children - perished that day, despite courageous rescue efforts.
What Australians and the world did not see were the hundreds of others who were dying while trying to reach Australia in unseaworthy boats. The Australian Government is aware of at least 1,200 deaths. Many more may have drowned.
No responsible government could stand idly by in the face of these repeated tragedies.
As soon as we were elected the Coalition Government implemented strong polices to put the people smugglers out of business and end the deaths at sea.
Our policies are lawful. They are safe. And they work.
They save lives. They reduce the risks run by our border protection personnel. And they have stopped the evil people smuggling trade to Australia.
Together, turning back boats where it is safe to do so, offshore processing and Temporary Protection Visas have restored integrity to Australia’s borders and our humanitarian migration programmes.
Appropriate inquiry and research of the facts about these policies would show that the often vague, untested and unsubstantiated claims by opponents of these policies are lacking in credibility.
Australia has a long, proud tradition of taking in victims of persecution.
The Australian people support a generous, orderly humanitarian resettlement of refugees in greatest need around the world.
Last year Australia resettled 13,500 people under refugee and humanitarian programmes. On a per capita basis we are the most generous refugee resettlement nation in the world.
Australia is one of the fewer than 30 countries to offer resettlement through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Australia is engaged with the UNHCR on the broader humanitarian crisis.
Because of the success of our policy in restoring the integrity of our borders, the Coalition Government is increasing our offshore humanitarian programme by almost 40 per cent. By 2018-19 places in resettlement programmes will increase to 18,750.
Last year the Government set aside 4,400 places for Syrians and Iraqis. This year we will take in 4,800 desperate people from the Middle East.
Australia will continue to act in accordance with our international obligations and our values.