Call to reintroduce protection visas

Five people died and dozens were seriously hurt when a boat carrying 47 asylum seekers exploded off Ashmore Reef last week.

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The accident has led opposition politicians to claim the government\’s asylum seeker policies are “soft” and must be tightened to help deter people smuggling.

“The government abandoned (TPVs) in August because it said it had had no effect, events since then suggest that they were wrong,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“The reintroduction of temporary protection visas should be high on the agenda.”

Temporary Protection Visas were introduced by the Howard Government in 1999, as a way of deterring unauthorised arrivals into the country.

Government view \’not credible\’

Mr Turnbull said the objective of Australia\’s policy should be to have no unauthorised boat arrivals.

“We don\’t want them, it\’s bad in terms of the integrity of our borders and it also poses enormous danger to life and limb on the high seas.

“In an ideal world no boats would come.”

The federal government says the increase in unauthorised arrivals is due to the migration \’push factor\’ in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

But Mr Turnbull says this view is “simply not credible”.

The government has to face the fact that the “the policy isn\’t working”, he said.

Rudd immigration policies \’soft\’

“They (policies) are not adequately protecting our borders… they\’re perceived as being soft and that is encouraging people smuggling.

“They (the government) have to change the policies.”

The Rudd government made changes to mandatory detention requirements to allow women and children to be detained in the community.

It also dismantled the previous Howard government\’s Pacific Solution to process refugees offshore under UN guidelines, without access to the Australian legal system.

Mr Turnbull said the Pacific Solution was “a discrimination against unathorised boat arrivals”.

Mr Turnbull said the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had given the government advice on the impact of the relaxed policies.

Plea for bipartisan approach

“We need to see that advice… because it is plain enough that the government\’s policy is not working.”

He called on the government to take a bipartisan approach on immigration policy, and urged the government to release information on the explosion aboard the boat which was carrying more than 40 asylum seekers, mostly men from Afghanistan.

The explosion, which may have been the result of sabotage, claimed the lives of five people and injured dozens more.

Mr Turnbull said the government should stop playing games.

“They know full well what\’s happened, they\’ve known for some time, they should tell the truth.

“If the Rudd government wants to dispel the suggestion that it\’s a cover-up all it needs to do is tell the truth.”