Peter Dutton gave us a warm up act to his enlarged role as the inaugural Home Affairs Minister, giving Kevin Rudd and the rest of the Labor Party a serve on their border protection policy and to remind the public that we risk having our borders flung open by a future Labor government.
Kevin Rudd made an unwelcome return to public debate yesterday by stating that those who attempted to come to Australia by boat should have been settled here after one year in detention if resettlement in a third country could not be arranged. The media was quiet to point out that Rudd was contradicting what he said as Prime Minister in 2013 when he claimed that any asylum seeker who came by boat would not be settled in Australia, this was complimented by a public advertising campaign aimed at potential boat people as well.
Rudd was contradicted by Labor’s present immigration spokesperson Richard Marles who stated that the 2013 boat resettlement policy still stood. Peter Dutton yesterday on Sky News made the point that it appeared Kevin Rudd misled the Australian people when he made the policy in 2013.
Today at a press conference he went further calling Kevin Rudd a liar and highlighted that the Labor Party remains divided on the issue of border security. He criticized Bill Shorten for staying silent after Kevin Rudd’s intervention and that many members of the Labor caucus support lax border security.
He reiterated that electing Labor at the next election risks the people smuggling trade being reopened, asking if Labor would have the guts to turn back boats and that they still opposed temporary protection visas. He further stated that the Coalition government would not be giving any ground on border security and if asylum seekers wanted to get off Manus Island and Nauru they should start cooperating with immigration department officials and stop listening to activists.
If the Coalition wants to be reelected at the next election they need to make border protection an issue, they didn’t at the last election which partly explained their poor result. It is clear that Dutton will be their biggest asset in this regard, as will be making the new Home Affairs Department a success.