Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'll turn back every boat, says Australian conservative leader

A COALITION government will order the navy to turn around asylum-seeker boats and return them to Indonesia in an assertion of Australian border protection, Tony Abbott revealed. The Opposition Leader is determined to impose a new and tougher policy whereby Australia uses its navy to secure its borders.

If elected prime minister, Mr Abbott will tell Jakarta Australia will no longer passively accept the arrival of asylum-seeker boats from that country, The Australian reported last night.

A radical policy departure, this has far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for Australia-Indonesia relations.

In recent talks with his colleagues, Mr Abbott said: "This is a test of wills and Australia has lost. "What counts is what the Australian government does, not what it says. "It is time for Australia to adopt turning the boats as its core policy."

Mr Abbott said this would involve an increase in the number of naval vessels to force the boats back, including the capacity to remove asylum-seekers from deliberately sabotaged boats before repairing those vessels to enable the boatpeople to be returned to Indonesia.

The Coalition has also ruled out a political deal to revive Labour's Malaysia Solution and is planning a tougher regimen of temporary protection visas.

This includes a quota on the number of permanent visas issued to temporary protection visa holders to favour authorised asylum-seekers and to provide a disincentive to people making the journey by boat.


New Zealand convicted criminals slip into Australia to wage crime spree

KIWI criminals convicted of serious crimes including manslaughter and rape in their home country have slipped into Australia and waged a shocking crime spree here.

Border checks are so lax that New Zealand offenders who have served lengthy jail sentences are simply ticking a box claiming they have no criminal history. A computer alert system at the border failed to detect violent and repeat offenders who went on to commit further serious crimes in Australia.

One Kiwi roofer was jailed for 11 years in New Zealand but was waved into Australia and spent his first four months working at the Prime Minister's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, when John Howard was in office.

Jonathan Rountree admitted he lied on his passenger arrival card and went on to amass a lengthy Australian record for drug dealing, trafficking and assault.

Another Kiwi entered Australia despite being jailed for nine years in New Zealand for manslaughter and rape after a violent sexual assault. The offender, who cannot be named, admitted he lied about his criminal history on his arrival card and was later the subject of five domestic violence orders.

The cases are detailed in Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions and court cases from the past five years. But they are the tip of the iceberg because the tribunal only looks at cases where people appeal against their visa cancellations.

Kiwis can cross the Tasman on a Special Category Visa under an arrangement to allow freer travel between Australia and New Zealand. Anyone sentenced to a year or more in jail is not eligible for the visa. Immigration can also refuse entry to anyone who fails a character test due to their criminal history.

A global Movement Alert List computer database containing about 630,000 names is supposed to flag people who may be a risk because of serious criminal records. But of the 1.36 million New Zealanders who came to Australia last year, only 175 were turned back at the border for failing the character test. In the three years to December 2011, more than 220 Kiwis who had been allowed into Australia had their visas cancelled for failing the character test.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government was working with New Zealand to improve sharing of criminal histories to prevent criminals moving between the countries at will. Mr Bowen used his special powers to remove four Kiwis last year after they had won appeals against deportation decisions.

Dylan Murphy Kasupene, a drug addict who served 18 months' jail in New Zealand for car theft, shoplifting, burglary and threatening behaviour with a weapon, was jailed in NSW for break and enter, larceny, stealing, shoplifting and public nuisance before being deported.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said screening safeguards were inadequate. "Australians are rightly appalled when people who come here on visas from any country and are granted that privilege abuse it," he said.

NSW jails last year housed 304 New Zealanders.

The issue of information sharing between the two countries was reignited after convicted New Zealand fraudster Joel Morehu-Barlow came to Australia and allegedly embezzled more than $16 million from Queensland Health.


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