Topics:  border protection, john howard, tony abbott

Abbott echoes Howard on boats

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says he wants to return Australia to a "golden age" of border protection.

In a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Abbott outlined the Coalition's plans for "more secure borders".

In doing so, he made at least 11 references to former prime minister John Howard and his government's approach to asylum seeker policy.

Mr Abbott even used the "we will determine who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they come" line used famously by Mr Howard during the 2001 federal election.

"Under the current government there have been almost two boats a week. Under its predecessor, between 2002 and 2007, there were just three boats a year," Mr Abbott said.

"On border protection, as for economic management, the Howard era now looks like a lost golden age."

Mr Abbott said his government would reverse a number of the Gillard government's asylum seeker policies, including a return to issuing temporary protection visas and using the Navy to "stop the boats".

"Within a week of taking office, I would go to Indonesia to renew our co-operation against people smuggling," he said.

"I would, of course, politely explain to the Indonesian government that we take as dim a view of Indonesian boats disgorging illegal arrivals in Australia as they take of Australians importing drugs into Bali.

"Within a week of taking office, I would give new orders to the Navy that, where it is safe to do so, under the usual chain-of-command procedures, based on the advice of commanders-on-the-spot, Indonesian flagged, Indonesian crewed and Indonesian home-ported vessels without lawful reason to be headed to Australia would be turned around and escorted back to Indonesian waters."

Mr Abbott said one of his first acts as prime minister would be to re-open the Nauru detention centre, closed in the first year of the Kevin Rudd government, and ruled out ever supporting the Gillard government's preference for the so-called Malaysian solution.



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