Anthony Albanese has denied he is soft on borders after it was revealed a “surge” in navy ships and surveillance aircraft was deployed to Australia’s north.
Vice Admiral David Johnson told senate estimates earlier this week the Defence Force had been providing the support at the request of Operation Sovereign Borders for the last few weeks.
“It is of the nature of additional aircraft surveillance and additional ships that are patrolling in our northern waters,” he said.
In question time on Thursday, the opposition seized on the revelations and claimed they were linked to the government’s decision to grant asylum seekers more visa rights.
“Doesn’t this prove that Labor’s policies to end the deterrent of temporary protection visas provides an incentive to people smugglers to restart their evil trade?” opposition home affairs spokesperson Karen Andrews put to Mr Albanese.
The Prime Minister hit back, telling the house he was delivering on an election commitment, which was something the Coalition wasn’t accustomed to.
“The government will be tough on borders without being weak on humanity,” the Prime Minister responded.
“It might seem obscure to those opposite; the idea of a government implementing the policies that they took to an election, but that is precisely what we are doing.”
The government this week announced 19,000 temporary protection or safe haven visa holders who entered Australia prior to when OSB began in 2013 would be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
The Department of Home Affairs confirmed it did not advise against the changes when asked during senate estimates.
Earlier, Ms Andrews accused Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil of being missing in action.
“The government was warned about the impacts of changes to the policy but they have gone ahead and they have made changes, which have left us vulnerable here in Australia.”