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Turning back boats 'necessary'
January 22, 2012
An Australian Navy boat comes alongside a boat carrying 50 asylum seekers after it arrived at Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island
ORDERING the Australian navy to turn boatloads of asylum seekers around at sea is a necessary part of protecting the nation's borders, the federal opposition says.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday flagged using navy resources to do so, despite claims that it would be dangerous and illegal.
''No one should be in any doubt, least of all people smugglers, that a Coalition government would apply the policy of turning the boats back to every boat that comes to Australia,'' opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said. ''And we'll do that not only in our own waters, but in our contiguous zone and if necessary on the high seas.''
Advertisement: Story continues below He described the long-standing Coalition policy to turn boats around, combined with temporary protection visas and offshore processing of asylum seekers, as absolutely and ''uncompromisingly necessary''.
Mr Morrison also flagged giving the navy extra resources to do the job, but declined to detail exact figures.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the policy as ''reckless''.
''This is a dangerous and reckless approach,'' she told reporters in Melbourne. ''Turning a boat around is not worth the risk of losing an Australian life.'' Ms Gillard also revealed that senior defence officers had advised against the idea.
The Australian Greens also slammed the policy, branding it ''illegal and immoral''.