Steven Scott National Political Correspondent
July 21, 2013
QUEENSLAND will face a new wave of asylum seekers trying to escape Papua New Guinea under Kevin Rudd's new policy, Premier Campbell Newman says.In an dramatic warning about the flow-on effects of Mr Rudd's plan to tackle people smuggling, said PNG will become a ''launching pad'' for asylum seekers to island hop across the Torres Strait to Queensland.
''What Kevin Rudd is doing is creating a launching pad for a wave of additional ongoing immigration from PNG into Queensland, either legal or illegal,'' Mr Newman said.
''The Torres Strait is a porous border right now,'' Mr Newman said.
''It's only 4km from PNG on to the soil of Queensland.''
''You can go from PNG into Queensland across the Strait in a row boat.''
Mr Newman said PNG was not prepared to cope with the influx of refugees who would be resettled there under Mr Rudd's new border protection policy.
Federal Immigration Minister Tony Burke accused Mr Newman of a hysterical response to the new policy.
''It's hard to imagine anything more hysterical than this one,'' Mr Burke said.
''Campbell Newman appears to be objecting to the geographic location of Papua New Guinea. It's been there for a long time.''
The Premier's attack came as the federal Opposition delivered conflicting messages about Mr Rudd's deal to resettle all asylum seekers who arrive by boat and are found to be refugees in PNG.
Queensland Local Government Minister David Crisafulli was scathing about the impact of the new asylum policy on the state.
He said it was unbelievable that asylum seekers who had risked their lives travelling to Australia from Sri Lanka or Afghanistan would not try to do so again from PNG.
''The Federal Government has tried to end a political headache and in the process thrown Queensland to the wolves,'' he said.
''It's a half-baked, harebrained scheme out of Canberra.''
Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the Coalition would keep the deal with PNG if it won the election but left open the prospect of changing it.
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attacked Mr Rudd's plan as an ''election fix'' that won't work and vowed to never use another country to solve Australia's domestic problems.
''The only solution to Australian problems is found here in Australia,'' Mr Abbott said.
''I will never subcontract out to other countries the solution of problems in this country.''
The Opposition Leader said Mr Rudd's PNG plan should be considered a failure unless every new asylum seeker arrival was sent to Manus Island and the rate of boat arrivals stopped ''from today''.
In an address to the Liberal National Party convention in Brisbane, Mr Abbott told his supporters the election would be difficult to win.
''I've got to say, I am grateful to Mr Rudd because if there's one thing he's done, he has destroyed any complacency on our side,'' Mr Abbott said.
''Let's be under no illusions that we have a fight on our hand.''
The Opposition Leader used much of his speech to attack Mr Rudd as he rallied his supporters ahead of the election.
''Mr Rudd is hoping to surf back to government on a wave of amnesia and relief at the demise of an unpopular prime minister,'' he said.
Mr Abbott mocked the Prime Minister's claims that he had changed and he would reform the Labor Party.
He lashed the Government's fringe benefit tax hit on company cars to the mining tax, saying it would raise no money and destroy the car industry.
He said Mr Rudd had tweeted the message ''your business model has just ended'' in a reference to his crackdown on people smugglers.
But he urged car companies, cattle farmers and insulation installers who have been hurt by the Government's policies to retweet the message in a show of anger.