Australian PM blamed for asylum-seeker policies

15:17, November 03, 2009      

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Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott on Tuesday blamed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's immigration policies for the asylum-seeker tragedy unfolding off the Cocos Islands, arguing they encouraged boat people to risk their lives.

At least one person has died while another 11 remain missing, feared drowned, after a boat carrying 39 suspected asylum seekers sank 350 nautical miles north-west of the Cocos Islands on Sunday.

Abbott said the sinking of the boat and the standoff between authorities and 78 asylum seekers on an Australian Customs vessel in Indonesian waters showed the federal government's border protection regime had failed.

"You look at this terrible tragedy that's unfolding in the Indian Ocean at the moment and you've got to say this is a comprehensive failure and it's all the prime minister's fault," Abbott told Fairfax Radio.

Rudd maintains his border protection policy is tough but humane.

However, Abbott said the dismantling of the former Howard government's border protection policies had prompted the surge in people smuggling activity.

Source: Xinhua
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