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Friday, July 26, 2013

Military solution needed says Abbott

Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott said yesterday that the asylum seeker problem is now "a national emergency" and needs a military solution to fix it.  As more people drown at sea after their unsafe fishing boats founder and sink, he has chosen an almost war-like solution.

People smugglers are rumoured to be making $1 million per boat and they must be having a last-minute sale, as boats continue to leave Indonesia in a continuous stream.  But they are not telling their customers that the rules have changed - they will never be settled in Australia, but resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG) instead.

Tony Abbott's solution is called Operation Sovereign Borders.  The head of Defence would be asked to appoint a commander to put the people smugglers out of business.  How that would be achieved is unclear.

Meanwhile, both Indonesia and PNG are upset. 

Indonesia is angry with Kevin Rudd for not consulting them first. But why would he?   They have allowed people smugglers to carry on their lucrative business in their country for years, and offered no help whatsoever.  It's Australia's problem, they said.

Tony Abbott upset PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill when he said it was wrong to hand over $500 million aid to PNG as a "simple cash grant with no accountability."  It sounds like he's worried about corruption, so it's no wonder Mr O'Neill is unhappy.

Opposition Deputy Julie Bishop said that Mr O'Neill told the coalition he had "total control over the entire Australian aid budget" so someone is not telling the truth. "I don't particularly appreciate being misrepresented by others for their own political interests" Mr O'Neill said.

Tony Abbott said he would salvage parts of Rudd's plan and work with Mr O'Neill if elected, to implement the Coalition's revised policy.

Manus Island is still a tent city and unsuitable for women and children. The government is rushing to get ready for the arrival of the first unlucky refugees who landed after the new plan was put in place.

On Wednesday, nine people, including an 18 months old baby, four children and a pregnant woman drowned and 189 were rescued when their boat sank off the Indonesian fishing town of Cidaun in western Java.  So far, hundreds have died trying to get to Australia and some say they don't care about going to PNG, anywhere would be better than going back to their own country.

Kevin Rudd is not worried about the continued arrivals, he expected them to keep coming, the people smugglers are testing the government's resolve, he said.  The crisis in Syria will likely result in 1.8 million refugees and Australia had to take drastic action now.

It's one week today since he announced the PNG plan.