EU should fol­low Aussie ex­am­ple on boat peo­ple: PM

The China Post - - GUIDE POST - BY GLENDA KWEK

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott, whose gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced tough mea­sures to stop asy­lum- seeker boats, said Tues­day the Euro­pean Union should fol­low suit, de­scrib­ing it as the only way to end deaths at sea.

His com­ments came af­ter a fish­ing ves­sel crammed with mi­grants cap­sized off Libya at the week­end with the loss of 800 lives, and as EU for­eign and in­te­rior min­is­ters met in Lux­em­bourg to dis­cuss ways to stem the flood of peo­ple try­ing to reach Europe.

Australia’s con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a mil­i­taryled op­er­a­tion af­ter com­ing into power in Septem­ber 2013 to turn back boats car­ry­ing asy­lum- seek­ers be­fore they reach the con­ti­nent.

“We have got hun­dreds, maybe thou­sands of peo­ple drown­ing in the at­tempts to get from Africa to Europe,” Ab­bott re­porters.

The “only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats,” he added.

While Ab­bott’s con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy has proved suc­cess­ful, with the na­tion go­ing nearly 18 months with vir­tu­ally no asy­lum- seeker boat ar­rivals and no re­ported deaths at sea, hu­man rights ad­vo­cates say it vi­o­lates Australia’s in­ter­na­tional obligations.

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Be­fore the pol­icy was in­tro­duced, boats were ar­riv­ing al­most daily with hun­dreds of peo­ple drown­ing en route.

“We must re­solve to stop this ter­ri­ble prob­lem and the only way you can stop the deaths is to stop the peo­ple- smug­gling trade,” Ab­bott said.

“That’s why it is so ur­gent that the coun­tries of Europe adopt very strong poli­cies that will end the peo­ple- smug­gling trade across the Mediter­ranean.”

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