The conservative frontrunner to become Australia’s next prime minister declared “this is our country” as he unveiled a tough new temporary visa policy yesterday that would strip boat people of basic rights.
Liberal Party of Australia leader Tony Abbott, who opinion polls show is on track to win Sept. 7 national elections, said he planned to return to punitive refugee policies of the former conservative administration, also flagging an axing of appeal rights for failed asylum claims.
“This is our country and we determine who comes here,” Abbott told reporters, deliberately harking back to the ruthless stance of veteran Liberal-National coalition leader and former Australian prime minister John Howard.
Abbott’s policy would see the 32,000 boat people currently awaiting processing by Australia, and any future arrivals, placed on three-year temporary protection visas if they are found to be genuine refugees.
They would be forced into an indefinite work-for-welfare program, denied permanent residency or family reunion rights and stripped of appeal avenues over their refugee claims.
Abbott has already announced plans for military-led patrols off Australia’s northwest coast, where people-smuggling ships often make their way from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, vowing to turn them back.
His latest policy was condemned as cruel by refugee activists and the left-wing Greens Party, who described it as posturing by Abbott on the sensitive political issue.
“This is a Tony Abbott stunt to thump his chest and look tough,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told reporters. “There is no national emergency, there is a humanitarian emergency, and nothing Tony Abbott has offered today does anything to deal with that.”
Under Howard’s so-called “Pacific Solution” last decade, refugees who arrived on people-smuggling boats were banished to Nauru and Papua New Guinea and held behind razor wire in spartan detention camps for a prolonged period.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, an advocacy and activist group, said Australia would be the only country in the developed world to deny refugees the right of appeal under Abbott, accusing both major parties of effectively abandoning the UN’s Refugee Convention.
The Labor party unwound many of Howard’s policies when it took office in 2007 in favor of a more humanitarian approach, but years of record boat arrivals saw it return to offshore Pacific processing and roll out an even tougher scheme.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear