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The Labor Government has been slammed for the 'continuation' of the Liberal Party's policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.
ABC News reports a boat of 15 refugees was halted by the Australian Border Force near Christmas Island on election day (May 21).
Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles and Treasurer Jim Chalmers reportedly gave the go-ahead for the boat to be turned around and redirected back to Sri Lanka.
The Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, confirmed in a statement: "The direction to me, by the Acting Prime Minister, was clear — this government remains committed to Operation Sovereign Borders and to the protection of lives at sea.
“We will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally, and safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin, or if not safe to do so, they will be transferred to regional processing.”
He also shared that each asylum seeker was given a screening to check their health and protection status before being sent back home.
Greens Immigration spokesperson Senator Nick McKim spoke out against Labor’s decision to turn the boat back, calling the act ‘inhumane’, according to Sky News.
"Australians voted for change and deserve so much better than a shameful continuation of Scott Morrison's brutal policy," he said.
"Turning people back into danger and persecution is unnecessary, ineffective, inhumane and contrary to international law."
Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles revealed to Sky News anchor Kieran Gilbert that Australia’s border protection will remain the same, despite government changes.
“What this shows is there is absolutely no change in terms of Australia’s border settings under this government,” he said.
“We will maintain a strong border which is the right thing to do.
“People smugglers should know that – very clearly – there will be no change under this government.”
Although the refugees were sent back to their home country, newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously expressed he would like to grant foreign workers permanent residency providing them with more security moving forward, according to SBS News.
He told the National Farmers Federation conference last month: "If you have people who are coming here temporarily, year after year, spending month after month here, why don't we give them a bit of certainty and actually allow people to stay who are making a contribution to the country?"
Featured Image Credit: Alex Ellinghausen/Pool via REUTERS/Alamy. Alamy.
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