The government’s tough border policies may have stopped people smugglers in their tracks. And thereby saved potentially thousands of would-be illegal immigrants from drowning at sea.
But the tough border policy is a long game. Reversing course now could see people smugglers back in action almost overnight. And that reality is not lost on South Australian voters.
Border protection will be a key issue when voters in the South Australian federal seat of Mayo go to the polls, Liberal candidate Georgina Downer says.
Ms Downer campaigned on Tuesday with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ahead of Saturday’s by-election.
‘We cannot return to the bad old days, under Labor, where we saw 50,000 people seek to come to Australia by boat and 1200 people we know perish at sea,’ she told reporters at Mt Lofty.
‘We cannot give an inch to the people smugglers.’
Mr Dutton is the latest in a string of high-profile Liberals to campaign alongside Ms Downer in the lead-up to Saturday’s vote.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has twice visited, as well as former prime minister John Howard and senior Liberals Julie Bishop, Greg Hunt, Michaelia Cash, Simon Birmingham and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack.
Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie has previously called for an end to indefinite offshore detention and for asylum seekers to be resettled in New Zealand.
Ms Sharkie, who spent the morning at a pre-polling booth at Mount Barker, said it was ‘terrific’ that Liberal ministers had visited and that some had made funding commitments.
‘I particularly like it when they bring a cheque book with them,’ she told AAP.
‘Make no mistake, if I wasn’t running they wouldn’t be here and they wouldn’t be making promises to our community.’
She said she had asked Mr Turnbull to honour $20 million worth of promises made to the electorate during the 2016 election campaign, and he had agreed.
‘Promises made to the electorate are there for the benefit of the electorate, they are not there to try and get a candidate a job,’ she said.
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The Australian Tribune with AAP