Australia is the only country in the world to successfully tackle the problem of migrant boats. It does this by saying ‘no’ to irregular seafaring arrivals, while at the same time admitting genuine refugees through an orderly process of entry.
This, of course, has been enough to induce a bout of elbow-gripping hysteria at the New York Times, which has warned Europe not to adopt this policy.
In an editorial in Thursday’s edition under the headline ‘Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants’ the newspaper made it clear that the one proven approach that can stop the tragedy of migrant drownings and put people smugglers out of business is the one that should not be followed.
‘Some European officials may be tempted to adopt the hard-line approach Australia has used to stem a similar tide of migrants. That would be unconscionable.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has overseen a ruthlessly effective effort to stop boats packed with migrants, many of them refugees, from reaching Australia’s shores. His policies have been inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war.’
As Breitbart News reported last month, Australia has just recorded 12 months without a single refugee boat arrival. Under Mr Abbott’s border control reforms of December 2013 – Operation Sovereign Borders – Australia has turned back 20 boats, preventing at least 633 people from arriving in the country.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made the announcement. He said:
“The fact that today we celebrate that we have not had a successful people smuggling venture in a year, and that over the course of the last 18 months or so we have turned back 20 boats and stopped 633 people from arriving in our country, is a significant achievement…
“…We have a very clear policy in place and that is that people who seek to come to our country by boat illegally will not settle in our country.”
Dutton reiterated the government’s firm belief that had the migrant boats not been prevented from landing after their passage from Indonesia, hundreds or thousands more would have followed with potentially catastrophic loss of life at sea.
Australia is firm in the belief that everyone who arrives by boat is immediately detained and then sent to have their claims processed in nearby Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Those found to be refugees are then resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia but not Australia. The warning of ‘no visa, no entry’ is clearly made in this government video:
Australia has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around and sending them back to their point of departure before they enter Australian waters. Those who fail to comply are removed from their vessels (which are then sunk by naval gunfire) and in some cases placed in government-supplied lifeboats and sent on their way with provisions for the return journey.
Mr Abbott has continued to defend the ‘turn-back policy’ for asylum seekers in the face of some domestic and much international criticism on the simple premise that it works and it is coupled with an orderly migration scheme. Australia is the third-largest recipient of refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees resettlement program, behind only Canada and the United States.
Yet somehow this policy success upsets the delicate sensibilities of the New York Times‘ editorial board. They don’t understand that if you don’t want to witness tragic migrant drownings then you have to stop people getting on the boats in the first place.