OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten has confirmed Labor will go into the next election promising to turn back asylum-seeker boats.
Mr Shorten admitted Labor had got it wrong on asylum-seeker policies when it was in government, acknowledging the large number of deaths at sea
He told ABC’s 7.30 program Labor was now determined to put people smugglers “out of business,” agreeing the Coalition’s policy of towing boats back to where they came from worked.
The evidence is indisputable.
Here’s the deaths at sea from asylum seekers by year:
- 2015 – 0
- 2014 – 0
- 2013 – 236
- 2012 – 420
- 2011 – 231
- 2010 – 164
- 2009 – 132
The zero deaths in 2014 and 2015 are not a coincidence. The turn back the boats policy has almost totally discouraged people smugglers from attempting the crossing. It has not just led to no one dying at sea, but also reduced dramatically the numbers in off shore camps.
The total population in immigration detention centres has fallen from around 13,000 to just over 3,000.
As at 30 June 2015, there were 1,600 in the Nauru and Manus processing centres. A year ago there were 2,358 so almost a reduction by a third.
But Mr Shorten looks headed for one almighty fight with his party’s Left faction, which is opposed the policy and is expected to try to vote it down at Labor’s national conference this weekend.
“It’s not easy though, because it involves the admission, I think, that mistakes were made when Labor was last in government,” he said.
“For myself, if I want to be the leader of this nation, I have got to be able to face the truth, and the truth for me is that we have policies in place which give substance and support to people smugglers to exploit vulnerable people, where they put these vulnerable people on unsafe boats then people drown at sea. I can’t support any policies that do that.”
An excellent call. Why would you reject a policy that has reduced the drowning toll 100% and the numbers in offshore detention facility by a third?