The Palmer United Party is on a fact finding mission to Christmas Island to discuss asylum seeker policies and the island’s long term future with local community and business leaders.
Palmer United Party candidates will be briefed by Christmas Island Administrator Jon Stanhope and other local figures on issues such as the impact of withdrawing detention facilities from Christmas Island.
The Palmer United Party group includes Trevor Hedland, who is standing for the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari which represents Christmas Island, as well as Jeremy Davey and Anthony Stanton, both former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) officers running in the respective Queensland seats of Moreton and Blair.
Palmer United Party immigration spokesman Bruce Gibson said Christmas Island was at the centre of more than a decade of inept asylum seeker policies from Australia’s major political parties.
“Both Labor and the Coalition have demonstrated a complete lack of compassion and common sense in wasting billions of tax payers’ dollars on asylum seeker policies which have only increased human misery,” he said.
Mr Davey, who served in border protection operations, said RAN patrol boat personnel in the Christmas Island area were close to breaking point.
“They are facing the daily possibility of having to pluck people, including children, from the ocean and they feel exposed and unprotected by the government,” he said.
“The pressures of their work and the extended time they are forced to spend away from home is also causing huge amounts of stress for the Navy personnel and their families.”
Mr Gibson, the Palmer United Party candidate for the north Queensland seat of Leichhardt, said Christmas Island had been the focal point of the ongoing asylum seeker tragedy.
“Christmas Island is at the front line of Australia’s disastrous policies on dealing with asylum seekers, which has resulted in hundreds of people perishing at sea,” he said.
“There are also more than 2500 people in over-crowded Christmas Island detention facilities. We will inspect these facilities as part of our tour of the island. ”
The Palmer United Party believes offshore processing as favoured by both major parties has increased the pain and suffering of genuine asylum seekers.
The Palmer United Party advocates allowing asylum seekers to fly to Australia and be processed at airports.
“If we really want to smash the people smugglers’ business model we need to take away their customers and get people off the boats,” Mr Gibson said.
“We say you can buy a plane ticket if you believe you’re a legitimate refugee and you can come to Australia in normal transport at one tenth the cost.”
Palmer United Party Policy on Asylum Seekers
We spend billions of dollars each year trying to deal with illegal entry into Australia. Our Navy is deployed at great cost and does not now do what it should do and defend Australia. People are attracted to this country by many financial and other benefits that the government offers. Families of new arrivals are separated and kept in camps at the taxpayers’ expense and many people lose their lives while people smugglers make a fortune. While all this is going on, the Australian people continue to suffer. We need to change things. It is the Australian government that creates the market for people smugglers to prosper. If a person seeking entry into Australia was allowed to board a plane for $800 to fly to one of our airports such as Sydney or Brisbane they wouldn’t need to pay the people smugglers up to $20,000 for illegal entry to Australia. Any person would require their valid passport to board the flight, so when arriving at the immigration hall we would know who they are and where they came from. At the airport we could have the facilities to deal with them. Each person or family could be given a fair hearing at the airport facilities when they arrive to determine if they had a lawful right of entry into Australia. If they didn’t they could be returned to where they came from on the next flight. This would abolish the detention camps, restore our navy to its traditional role, save the lives of children and families, keep families together and recognise the legitimate rights of those that have a lawful reason for entering Australia. This policy would also reduce the risk of breeches in our quarantine and protect our agricultural industries. Only the Palmer United Party can stop the boats by taking away the financial incentive that started them in the first place. The billions of dollars saved by this policy can be spent for a change on the people who deserve it: the people of Australia.