Tony Abbott compares stopping terrorism to stopping asylum seekers


Doug Bolton
Monday 25 May 2015 14:51 BST
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott's determination to keep refugees out of Australia is well known.

But now the Australian Prime Minister has gone step further, and compared the efforts needed to stop asylum seekers entering the country as similar to those needed to thwart terrorists.

During a speech about the government's anti-terror measures, he said: "We need to bring the same drive, focus and clarity of purpose to countering terrorism that resulted in stopping the boats under Operation Sovereign Borders."

Operation Sovereign Borders is a border protection operation aimed at stopping the arrivals of boats of asylum seekers from poverty or conflict-stricken areas of south east Asia.

During the same speech, he said: "I think we've demonstrated in the way we have stopped the boats, I think we have demonstrated with our commitment to countering Islamist death cults both here and abroad, that we do take our responsibilities to keep our communities safe very, very seriously indeed."

Abbott was criticised after he told European leaders to simply "stop the boats" flooding to Italy from Libya after up to 1,300 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean in a week.

Australia is a common destination for asylum seekers in the region from countries like Sri Lanka and Burma.

Asylum seekers are detained after their boat was turned back when trying to land on the Australian territory of Christmas Island by the Australian Royal Navy.

Many Burmese refugees are Rohingya Muslims, who are the victims of state-sanctioned discrimination in their mostly Buddhist home nation.

Australia received 24,300 claims for asylum in 2013, making it the eighth largest recipient of asylum seekers amongst other developed nations.

Mr Abbott used the speech to remind Australians of his government's determination to stop terrorism, an important policy in light of last year's terror attack in Sydney, when customers and staff were held hostage at a café by an Islamic extremist.

During the speech, Abbott said that the current Minister for Justice Michael Keenan will become Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism.

He also said that Keenan will take particular responsibility within the Attorney General's department for Australia's various anti-terror programmes.

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