SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was unmoved by new reports on Friday of asylum-seeker abuse and claims a group was turned back to Indonesia in a lifeboat, saying his harsh policies were “working.”
He rebuffed suggestions the military should release official video of their “Operation Sovereign Borders” missions after an asylum-seeker told Fairfax Media three men on his boat allegedly had their hands held against hot engine pipes by navy personnel to punish them for protesting.
Abbott was peppered with questions about the government’s turnback policy after reports also emerged of a lifeboat full of asylum-seekers, including young children, washing up in Indonesia after being turned away by Australia’s navy near remote Christmas Island with inadequate food to last the journey.
“What I’m interested in doing is stopping the boats. That’s what I’m interested in doing and that’s what the Australian public elected this government to do,” Abbott told reporters.
“I’m pleased that we’ve now had 50 days without an illegal boat arriving in Australia and the message is getting out loud and clear to the people smugglers and their would-be customers that the way is shut, you shall not pass,” he added.
“These policies are working. Yes they are tough, but they are working.”