Drowned Syrian boy shows need to stop boats: Australian PM

MEDIA CALL: Gillard, Abbott to hold Q&A session at Rooty Hill RSL Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm Sydney, Australia, August 9, 2010 – Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be holding a people’s forum at Rooty Hill RSL on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm. The event will be facilitated by political editor David Speers and telecast live across Australia. The audience, which will include approximately 200 swinging voters from Western Sydney chosen by Galaxy Research, as well as media representatives, will have the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader questions related to their policies and in particular, how it affects the local community. Gillard, Abbott Q&A session details Date: Wednesday, 11 August 2010 Time: 6.00pm (media can set up from 5.15pm) Where: Rooty Hill RSL Waratah Room 55 Sherbrooke Street, Rooty Hill NSW 2766 RSVP: Schedule 6.00pm Prime Minister Julia Gillard address – Q&A 7.00pm Break for refreshments 7.30pm Opposition Leader Tony Abbott address – Q&A 8.30pm Close A limited number of seats are available for media representatives for this event. To attend this media call or for further information regarding the Gillard, Abbott Q&A session, please contact Christine Kardashian at Dash PR on 02 8084 0705 / 0416 005 703 or email ________________________________________ MEDIA RELEASE: Rooty Hill RSL to host Gillard, Abbott Q&A session Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm Sydney, Australia, August 9, 2010 – Rooty Hill RSL, Australia’s largest RSL club, will host the highly anticipated people’s forum with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. The event will be held on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 from 6.00pm, facilitated by political editor David Speers and telecast live across Australia. Why Rooty Hill RSL? Rooty Hill RSL

Tony Abbott

Heart-breaking images of a Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach were a reminder of the need to stop people-smuggling boats, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, as he stood firm on Canberra’s hardline immigration policies.

Photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying dead on the sand as Europe grapples with its worst refugee crisis since World War II showed the “evil” nature of people-smuggling, Abbott said.

Australia’s conservative government introduced a military-led operation to turn back boats carrying asylum-seekers attempting to arrive on the mainland after it came to power in September 2013.

“It was an absolutely heart-rending photograph and I don’t think any parent could see that photograph without being devastated,” the Australian leader told reporters in Wodonga south of Canberra.

“I know that there has been quite a bit of interest in the policies that Australia has put in place, because if you do stop the people-smuggling trade… obviously you end the deaths at sea.

“The most compassionate thing you can do in the medium and long-term is to close down this evil trade.”

Under Australia’s immigration policy, asylum-seekers that arrive are sent to the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea to be processed and denied resettlement in Australia even if they are found to be refugees.

Canberra has declared the policy a success, despite criticism from rights groups, and in August marked a year since the last successful boat arrival, adding that 20 vessels carrying 633 asylum-seekers have been turned back since 2013.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hit back at a Thursday editorial in The New York Times newspaper criticising Australia’s boat policies, saying at least 1,200 people died trying to reach his nation by boats between 2008 and 2013 under the previous Labor government.

He said Australians had been horrified by the deaths of some 50 asylum-seekers in December 2010 when their rickety boat shattered in huge seas by Christmas Island off Australia’s northern coast.

“No responsible government could stand idly by in the face of these repeated tragedies,” Dutton said in a statement.

“Our policies are lawful. They are safe. And they work. They save lives.”

Abbott added that a call by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to boost the number of Syrian refugees his nation takes in was already in place after Australia last year said it would resettle 2,200 Iraqis and 2,200 Syrians fleeing violence.

“It’s precisely because we have got much better border controls in place, we’ve established much better border security that we are in a position to increase our refugee and humanitarian intake,” the prime minister said.

According to Australia’s parliamentary library, 1,007 Syrians were granted offshore refugee and humanitarian visas last year out of a total of 11,016 visas granted.

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