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Strengthening our borders through regional co-operation

Budget 2011 - 2012Media Release

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice
Hon. Brendan O'Connor MP

Minister for Foreign Affairs
Hon. Kevin Rudd MP

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
Hon. Chris Bowen MP

10 May 2011

The Gillard Government will continue to invest to protect our national borders and continue the ongoing fight against people smuggling in the 2011-12 Budget.

We want to secure our borders and stop people smugglers luring vulnerable people onto unseaworthy vessels – taking their life savings and sometimes their lives.

People smuggling is a complex regional problem that requires a multi-faceted regional solution. There is no quick fix.

The Government will provide $292 million to support a new Regional Cooperation Framework that will help put people smugglers out of business and prevent asylum seekers making the dangerous journey to Australia by boat.

Under the agreement, Australia will transfer 800 people arriving in Australia by boat to Malaysia and in return will resettle a total of 4,000 refugees currently residing in Malaysia, adding an additional 4,000 places to Australia's humanitarian intake over four years.

This sends a clear message to people smugglers and those contemplating the dangerous sea voyage to Australia - we are committed to breaking the people smugglers' business model and the trade in human misery that they rely on.

We will continue to work closely with our regional partners and in the 2011-12 Budget we are investing:

  • $33.3 million to address irregular population flows in source and transit countries and build greater regional cooperation;
  • $23.8 million to engage with and support regional partners in the development of initiatives to prevent and deter people smuggling;
  • $10.8 million to deploy dedicated Australian Federal Police officers to support anti-people smuggling operations by law enforcement agencies in Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka; and
  • $8.0 million to help Customs and Border Protection disrupt maritime people smuggling in co-operation with law enforcement and border protection agencies throughout the region.

The Government will invest $6.7 million to work with regional partners to strengthen legal frameworks to combat people smuggling and transnational organised crime, including extradition and mutual assistance. This program has previously supported the introduction of people smuggling laws in Malaysia and Indonesia.

We're also keeping our borders strong with continued investment in infrastructure and equipment including:

  • $77.1 million to continue Australia's anti-people smuggling surveillance and detection operations; and
  • $43.6 million to upgrade key infrastructure on Christmas Island, including extensions to the wharf at Flying Fish Cove.

The Government is committed to deterring dangerous people smuggling ventures before they depart for our shores and efficiently dealing with irregular immigration by investing:

  • $9.7 million to improve the integrity of Afghanistan's passport system;
  • $7.0 million to support the sustainable return of irregular maritime arrivals to their country of origin;
  • $3.0 million in a counter people smuggling communications campaign in source and transit countries; and
  • $1.5 million to destroy suspected irregular entry vessels after interception.

The measures announced in the 2011-12 Budget build on the investments in border protection and people smuggling deterrence that were made in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 Budgets.

Media Contacts:
Kate Sieper (Rudd) 0466 745 615
Bill Kyriakopoulos (Bowen) 0400 510 802
Jayne Stinson (O'Connor) 0458 547 512