Doorstop, Press Gallery, Parliament House Canberra
Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific:
As part of the broadest and most comprehensive Pacific policy the Government has ever developed, we will be introducing legislation today for the Pacific Engagement Visa. This will allocate 3000 permanent migration spots to Pacific Islanders each and every year. This will in fact triple the number of Pacific Islanders settling permanently in Australia. And this is all about building the people-to-people links between Australia and the Pacific region. This is critical to us rebuilding our relationships there.
Importantly, the people who win the ballot, the lottery, so to speak, must have a job offer in this country. They must meet character and health requirements and they're able to bring their family and they'll have the full social security support of Medicare and Family Tax Benefit A and B. But this is all about deepening our people-to-people relationships with the region. And this is vital. Our security and the security of the Pacific are entwined and rebuilding our relationships there are vital.
Just on another matter, Defence has been asked to send more personnel to Australia's northern waters for Operation Sovereign Borders. Why is that the case?
I'm not going to comment on operational matters. But what I can say is this government remains firmly committed to Operation Sovereign Borders and under that policy, every single boat is turned back or returned. Every single boat is turned back. That policy has not changed. Our commitment to Operation Sovereign Borders is there and it remains resolute.
The Opposition says by sending more personnel there and by releasing that video this week that's aimed at people smugglers, that shows the Government is worried about boat arrivals. Is that the case?
Well, I'm not going to comment on operational matters. I'll just restate our position and our policy position on this, which has not changed one iota. Every single boat will be turned back or returned. Full stop. End of sentence.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7840
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