News National Abbott claims big win on boat arrivals

Abbott claims big win on boat arrivals

Tony Abbott
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has touted the success of his efforts to combat people smuggling but stopped short of labelling it mission accomplished with the end of the monsoon season looming.

Mr Abbott on Saturday said it had been 100 days since an asylum seeker boat had reached Australian shores.

He said that during the same period under the former Labor government there were 66 boat arrivals.

Mr Abbott warned, however, that the end of the monsoon season may prompt asylum seekers to attempt to reach Australia by boat.

“The monsoon is coming to an end and traditionally people smuggling operations have picked up at the end of the monsoon,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“It’s too early to declare the job has been done but nevertheless we can safely say that the way is closed.”

The prime minister also conceded the absence of boat arrivals did not mean there hadn’t been attempts to make the journey, but he would not reveal how many vessels had been turned back by Operation Sovereign Borders.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said asylum seekers looking to come to Australia by boat would be confronted with the same policies “that stopped all those coming over the last 100 days”.

Mr Morrison will travel to Papua New Guinea in the next week for an update on the investigation into a fatal riot at the Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre.

Meanwhile, opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the coalition shouldn’t be chalking up 100 days without a boat arrival as a victory.

“This is not a footy match,” Mr Marles told reporters in Melbourne.

“This is not about scoreboards and banners and slogan.”

Mr Marles said it was Labor’s tactics that resulted in the reduction in arrivals.

“It’s fine for the prime minister and (Immigration Minister Scott Morrison) to stand in front of big banners on this issue, but … the critical piece of policy which changed the game here was the arrangement which Labor put in place,” Mr Marles said.