Tony Abbott stopped flow of refugee boats to Australia 2013, Europe must end people smuggling business by force.

Tony Abbott tells European leaders to turn back asylum seekers or risk ‘catastrophic error’

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Updated about an hour agoWed 28 Oct 2015, 1:44pm

YouTube: Abbott tells European leaders to turn back asylum seekers

Deposed Australian Prime Minister delivers Margaret Thatcher Lecture
Deposed Australian Prime Minister delivers Margaret Thatcher Lecture

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has used a speech in London to call on European leaders to close their borders to asylum seekers or risk imperilling their nations.

Key points:

  • Tony Abbott tells EU leaders to close turn back asylum seekers
  • Says military action in Middle East must be maintained to counter Islamic State caliphate
  • Comments labelled “disappointing” by Australian refugee advocate
  • Watch Abbott’s speech in full or read the transcript

Mr Abbott delivered the second annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture at a banquet in London to an audience of Tory ministers and Conservative Party members.

He used the occasion to promote the Coalition’s hardline asylum seeker policies as a solution to Europe’s migrant crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from the Middle East, cross into the continent.

Abbott turns back the refugee boats 2013
Abbott turns back the refugee boats 2013

He urged regional leaders to act by “turning around boats [and] denying entry at the border for people with no right to come”.

“It will require some force, it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences,” Mr Abbott said.

“Yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever.”

He outlined his concern that “misguided altruism” was “…leading much of Europe into catastrophic error”.

Abbott stops refugee people smuggling into Australia 2013
Abbott stops refugee people smuggling into Australia 2013

“No country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself,” he said.

He cautioned, “too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all”.

Mr Abbott called for more to be done to counter the ideology behind extremist groups, such as Islamic State.

“It’s a pity that the recent UN Leaders’ week summit was solely about countering violent extremism … and not abound not about dealing much more effectively with the caliphate that’s now the most potent inspiration for it,” he said.

Mr Abbott acknowledged the lack of public appetite for escalating involvement in the Middle East, but he emphasised the need for military action.

“Leaving anywhere, even Syria, to the collective determination of Iran, Russia and Daesh [Islamic State] should be too horrible to contemplate,” he said.

Abbott’s views in hot demand: Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to be drawn into the debate about Mr Abbott’s comments.

“Tony has given a speech. I will leave others to run the commentary on it,” he said.

“He has obviously had a remarkable career in public life, including two years as prime minister. We owe him a great debt for that.

“His views are in hot demand everywhere in the world.”

However, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Europe’s asylum seeker crisis was complex.

“I am not sure Tony Abbott on a victory lap giving a Margaret Thatcher Lecture is exactly what Europe needs to solve its problems,” he said.

“I think the issues there are issues which the Europeans have to grapple with and simply saying Australia has all the answers is not the right way to go.”

Mr Abbott arrived at Guildhall in London with wife Margie by his side, after the pair spent time hiking in Scotland, including a visit to Hadrian’s Wall.

The lecture, to honour former UK Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was attended by several Tory ministers in David Cameron’s government and Conservative Party officials.

Some of Mr Abbott’s current and former staff members attended the function, but not his former chief of staff Peta Credlin.

Refugee Industry describes Abbott’s comments ‘disappointing, simplistic’

Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning slammed Mr Abbott’s comments as “disappointing” and “simplistic”.

Australian Refugee Council's Phil Glendenning
Australian Refugee Council’s Phil Glendenning, refugee industry going broke because of Abbott.

“In terms of what Mr Abbott’s proposing in Europe, it would be an utter catastrophe if people fleeing from persecution were told to go back there, were pushed back to sea where they would likely drown,” Mr Glendenning told ABC News Breakfast.

“I find it very disappointing that an Australian PM would say this.”

Mr Glendenning took aim at Mr Abbott’s claim he had stopped asylum seeker boats coming to Australia.

“It hasn’t actually stopped people taking to the sea in our region,” he said.

“The UN’s recently reported there are some 53,000 people trying to seek safety and security in our region.

Refugees drown as people smuggler boat wrecked on rocks at Christmas Island
Refugees drown as people smuggler boat wrecked on rocks at Christmas Island

“So the boats have sort of been deflected.

“They’ve passed the problem on to someone else.”

However, Mr Abbott received support from UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who backed his stance as “heroic” and “absolutely right”.

“There is a very big difference between being a civilised country that recognises that there are genuine refugees from time to time and having a lunatic policy, that I’m afraid [German chancellor Angela Merkel] has pushed, saying ‘Please, world, come here, we’re pleased to have you’,”

he told Radio National.

Tony Abbott’s address to the Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Centre Gala Dinner and Banquet
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Contributed by: ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
To print the document, click the “Original Document” link to open the original PDF. At this time it is not possible to print the document with annotations.
Navy sends Vietnamese back home

The Abbott Government has confirmed it returned almost 50 asylum seekers to Vietnam in an extraordinary new phase of its boat turn-back regime.

The West Australian _revealed last week that HMAS Choules was standing by off the coast of Vietnam to hand over a big group of asylum seekers.

The Government refused to make public any details of efforts to push back or turn back asylum boats.

The mission also raised alarm in the Australian Vietnamese community, with fears the group could be punished by Hanoi for their attempt to flee.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday the navy had returned 46 boat people to Vietnam. Mr Dutton thanked the Vietnamese Government for its co-operation in the handover.

“We’ve been able to safely return those 46 people to Vietnam, we’ve been able to do that with the assistance of the Vietnamese Government and we’ve also done it meeting out international obligations under the treaties,” he said.

When The West Australian last exposed details of a secret navy mission to turn back asylum boats, the head of Customs and Border Protection Service asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the leak.

It is believed this latest group of Vietnamese asylum seekers were picked up by a Customs vessel to Australia’s north.

They were processed at sea and put aboard the Choules for the journey home.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appeared to contradict Tony Abbott after the Prime Minister suggested Europe copy Australia’s turn-back policy.

There have been a series of recent asylum disasters in the Mediterranean, leading for calls from some in Europe for a tougher line to deter boat arrivals.

Mr Abbott said on Tuesday the only way to stop deaths at sea was to “stop the boats”.

But speaking in Berlin, Ms Bishop said what worked in one place might not work in another.

Topics: refugees, immigration, world-politics, government-and-politics, united-kingdom, australia, european-union

First posted about 9 hours agoWed 28 Oct 2015, 6:30am

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