Australia's Government says it's crippled the people smuggling trade | Pacific Beat

Australia's Government says it's crippled the people smuggling trade

Australia's Government says it's crippled the people smuggling trade

Updated 2 September 2013, 17:07 AEST

With less than a week to go till Australia goes to the polls Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, is claiming his Government's hardline asylum seeker policies are a success, saying they have broken the back of the people smuggling trade.

Those policies mean in essence that if you try and enter Australia by boat, a deal with Papua New Guinea means not only will asylum seekers be processed on Manus Island, but even if they are found to be refugees they will not be allowed to settle in Australia, instead they will be resettled in PNG.

Asylum seekers are also being sent to Nauru for processing, and the government says those there found to be refugees will be allowed to resettle there, although that policy has not been well received by the people of Nauru.

Speaking to the media earlier today Mr has today announced the first boats arrivals in almost a week, saying they are not heavily loaded with people and that's a sign the old people smuggling trade is now gone.

Canberra Correspondent Karen Barlow gave Campbell Cooney these details.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Karen Barlow

BARLOW: He says there's two substantial shocks to the system here, one would be the release of the video of the asylum seekers on Manus Island not so long ago, talking about their experiences. They talked about being lied to by people smugglers, they talked about terrible, terrible experiences. We, of course, saw them anonymously, because we could not see their identity, but that had an impact. And the second substantial shock to the system has been according to the Minister, the transfer of families to Nauru.
Tony Burke says the impact has been extraordinary. It shows, he says, that it does not apply just to single male adults.
Also he was at pains to point out today that the numbers on Christmas Island, at the detention centre there have started to fall, rather than rise. He says that's very significant and he also announced the dumping of plans today to house asylum seekers at the Singleton Army Base in the New South Wales, Hunter Valley. Forty three million dollars had been allocated to house asylum seekers there, but he says, that's no longer needed. So overall, Tony Burke says the impact and communication of the policy is having an impact.
BURKE: The people smuggling trade no longer has a product to sell and it is now fair to say that while there will be a few more boats that will test our resolve and that will come and a few more people who will take the risk, we have broken the back of the people smuggling trade.
COONEY: Tony Burke there. Now look, while Mr. Burke's heralding what he describes as a win, there are confirmed reports of landowner anger from Manus. We've had that confirmed to us here on Radio Australia. Locals there say that despite promises and commitments, that their local businesses will be doing well out of the putting of the processing centre there. They've been cut out of the provision of services providing for the centre and what jobs are available, are offered at a significant decrease in pay. While Mr. Burke was hoping to spread the good word about what is killing the deal for asylum seeker and people smugglers. Did he have anything more to say on that issue?
BARLOW: Look, he was certainly asked about it. He didn't go into any of the concerns of the landowners. He basically dismissed the protests. He talked about the numbers there, some recently being described as one person protest. He says if that was held in Australia, he'd be astonished if it received any attention at all. 
He acknowledged that some of the gravel laying that has happened over the past few days has happened later than it should have. He did talk about political debate and it being I guess welcomed in Papua New Guinea. It is welcomed in Australia, but he has to point out that the Papua New Guinea is 100% behind this deal.
I did speak myself to the Immigration Department about what is happening with the operations of the centre. The Immigration Department says that it is working with the Papua New Guinea government to sort out the issues with the landowners to perhaps get some contracts for local labour. I did also ask about the issue with the dump and what's happening there. I am told that there is a temporary waste solution. I'm seeking a little bit more clarification of what that means, whether it's being piled up temporarily or is there a temporary site. There are issues about the dump. We will find out more information, but we haven't heard the last of this deal in this election campaign.

Contact the studio

Got something to say about what you're hearing on the radio right now?

Send your texts to +61 427 72 72 72

Add the hashtag #raonair to add your tweets to the conversation.

Email us your thoughts on an issue. Messages may be used on air.