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A Friendly Reminder That Labor’s Asylum Seeker Policy Is No Different From The Coalition

"Australians voted for change and deserve so much better than a shameful continuation of Scott Morrison‘s brutal policy."

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It’s been less than a week since the Albanese Government was elected, but already, asylum seekers have been turned away from Australia.

A boat was intercepted near Christmas island carrying 15 people from Sri Lanka on Saturday, which the Morrison Government spun into a last-minute election bid by texting voters about their efforts while the polls were still open.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles, who is covering for Anthony Albanese while he returns from the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo, confirmed on Tuesday that the vessel and its occupants had since been returned because Australia did not owe them protection. The asylum seekers were assessed under Operation Sovereign Borders, a ‘stop the boats’ processing policy introduced under the Coalition. “People smugglers out there should know that very clearly — there will be no change under this government, and Australia retains its strong border stance,” said Marles on Sky News.

“It’s been our position since 2015, it’s the third election we have taken it to, and it was very clear in my mind that this is exactly what we would do when faced with this situation and we’ve done it.”

Labor has been insistent on its backing of offshore processing, regional resettlement — or detention centres — and boat turn-backs “where safe to do so”, as they stated during the election campaign last month.

Rear Admiral working on Operation Sovereign Borders Justin Jones also said on Tuesday that the Albanese Government is working to preserve “the protection of lives at sea” — otherwise known as sending people who have risked their lives to flee dangerous situations in their homeland back to the exact place they tried to escape, or sticking them indefinitely on privately owned detention centres on Christmas Island, Manus, or Nauru.

Their policy is so similar to its predecessors, that the only difference in the Sri Lankan boat situation this week is that the asylum seekers were reportedly flown back on a chartered aircraft instead of returning by sea, despite the wording by officials suggesting otherwise.

Meanwhile, Labor is currently also being praised for finally allowing Tamil asylum seeker family the Murugappans — who are also from Sri Lanka — back to their community in Biloela, Queensland. As pointed out by the Refugee Council of Australia, some asylum seekers are forced to leave their country through unauthorised channels due to safety concerns in applying for visa or travel documentation, and often don’t have the luxury of time for bureaucracy.

“Fleeing by boat is often very costly and extremely dangerous, and people seeking asylum are vulnerable to exploitation by smugglers,” said the group. “It is not a form of escape which would be willingly chosen by people seeking asylum if safer options were available.”

“Australians voted for change and deserve so much better than a shameful continuation of Scott Morrison‘s brutal policy,” said Greens Senator and immigration spokesman Nick McKim. “Turning people back into danger and persecution is unnecessary, ineffective, inhumane and contrary to international law.”