Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has criticised Julia Gillard Government’s draft laws for controversial migration deal with Malaysia as ‘a bad deal’, ‘a cruel deal’ and ‘a dud deal’.
MPs in the House of Representatives began debating over the government’s proposed changes to the Migration Act, which would get around last month’s High Court ruling that struck out the ‘Malaysian Solution’ and put offshore processing beyond legal doubt.
Kicking off debate, Mr Abbott said the government had ‘manifestly failed’ to protect Australia’s borders.
“We haven’t just had the boats, we haven’t just had the arrivals, we’ve had the deaths, we’ve had the riots and we’ve had the suffering,” Mr Abbott told the Parliament. “Do you trust a Coalition that has had a clear and consistent policy on this for a decade, a policy that’s worked, or do you trust a government that has had every policy except the one that would actually stop the boats,” he said.
Mr Abbott rejected the ‘Malaysia Solution’ because although Malaysia was a friend and ally of Australia, ‘their standards are not our standards’. “First of all it’s a bad deal, second it’s a cruel deal and third it’s a dud deal,” he said.
Mr Abbott urged the government to adopt the Coalition’s amendments to the bill, which would limit offshore processing countries that are signatories to the UN refugee convention.
“This is a government that can have offshore processing today, all it has to do is to accept the amendment that the opposition is quite sensibly and quite properly putting forward,” he said.
Since those amendments would rule out Malaysia, the Australian government has said it would oppose them.