Opposition spokesman for Immigration Scott Morrison.
Opposition spokesman for Immigration Scott Morrison. john mccutcheon

Coalition describes plan to tackle asylum seeker boats

DISPATCHING Navy ships to intimidate asylum-seeker vessels will form part of the Coalition's plan to tackle boats bound for Australian waters.

During a press conference to announce the new Operations Sovereign Borders package, Opposition spokesman for Immigration Scott Morrison said nothing could replace a "physical deterrent".

"There can be no substitute, no substitute for a deterrence at sea when you're looking to protect your sea borders," Mr Morrison said.

"Kevin Rudd refuses to put in place a physical deterrent on our borders.

"Instead he, like his predecessor, is using our navy and our customs fleet as a taxi service.

"That has to end."

A three-star military commander would lead the operation and develop its structure with suggestions on the appointment to come from the Chief of the Defence Force.

The commander would report directly to the Minister for Immigration.

"This is one of the most serious external situations that we have faced in many a long year," Mr Abbott said.

"That's why it must be tackled with decisiveness, with urgency, with the appropriate level of seriousness.

"That's why we need to have a senior military officer in operational control of this very important national emergency."

In a statement, current Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley said he was yet to give any advice or recommendations on the policy to the Opposition Leader.

He said his role was to work with the government of the day to put its policies in place.

The Greens view the Opposition's policy as matching the repugnance of the Federal Government's own, describing it as "the same old cruelty".

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was Australia's reputation, not people smuggling, facing destruction from the new policy.

"Tony Abbott's military rhetoric is deliberately inflammatory and grossly irresponsible," she said.

"This is not a national emergency, it's a humanitarian emergency."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labelled Coalition's plans as just another slogan.

"Mr Abbott doesn't have an alternative, he has a three-word slogan," Mr Rudd said.

Less than a week after the Federal Government introduced its new policy on sea-faring asylum seekers, three boats have sunk enroute to Australia.

On Wednesday six people including a child perished with another 44 missing.

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