Karen Andrews warns Albanian government to retain temporary protection visas to tackle human trafficking

The former Home Secretary insists that temporary protection visas should remain in place as a message to deter human traffickers and asylum seekers from embarking on the dangerous journey to Australia.

Former Home Secretary Karen Andrews has insisted that Labor retain temporary protection visas as a “massive signal” to deter human traffickers and asylum seekers.

Four vessels have been intercepted by border forces and Sri Lankan officials in the past five weeks with refugees claiming they were told they would not be returned to their home country under a new government.

Sri Lankans are desperately trying to escape from the island, which is going through its worst economic crisis in 70 years and has led to shortages of food, fuel and other important things.

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Home Secretary Clare O’Neil flew to Colombo this week to meet with Sri Lankan leaders to discuss how Australia could assist in the humanitarian and economic crisis, as well as how to tackle the issue of asylum seekers.

She promised the government would provide $ 50 million in support, including $ 22 million for the World Food Program and $ 23 million in development aid.

The other $ 5 million was recently donated to UN agencies in Sri Lanka.

But Mrs Andrews believes the Albanian government could do more to prevent further boats from making the dangerous journey.

She stressed the importance of Operation Sovereign Borders, arguing that temporary protection visas should remain in place as a deterrent.

“It’s a massive signal to the human traffickers to hint at all that they will disappear, and that’s the policy Labor took for the election,” Andrews told Sky News.

Labor said during the federal election campaign that it would abolish temporary protection visas and switch to permanent protection visas if it won the government.

Ms Andrews told First Edition host Peter Stefanovic that one of the most important pillars of Operation Sovereign Borders is temporary protection visas.

“It’s really important … honestly, Labor can not say that things have not changed as they made it very clear that they want to stop temporary protection visas,” she said.

The former Home Secretary praised Mrs O’Neil for taking the trip to maintain relations between Canberra and Colombo.

“The Labor government has a massive problem they have to deal with now, which is the start-up of boats coming to Australia, so the relationship with Sri Lanka and the ability to return people to Sri Lanka is incredibly important,” Andrews said.

Stefanovic asked Mrs Andrews if she would support a legal increase in Sri Lankan migrants to Australia to start the migration.

Ms Andrews said there is an “opportunity” to look at bringing in skilled migrants to fill the skills shortage, but there were legal channels that did not involve risking their lives.

“Absolutely we should look at where we can pull these people from and get these people to move legally to Australia and we should welcome them with open arms,” ​​she said.

“There are a number of classifications where we know we need workers here in Australia, some of them are hospitality, tourism, but also in IT professionals.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said Labor would “regret the day” it legislated to remove temporary protection visas.

Sir. Dutton told Sky News host Chris Kenny that Labor has the Operation Sovereign Border “formula” and it would be a “disaster” if it removed temporary protection visas.

“If they pull that limb, Operation Sovereign Borders will fall over,” he said.

“When they say they support Operation Sovereign Borders – they do not. They support their own version, which does not have temporary protection visas.

“And that will be their downfall when it comes to both, tragically and sadly.”

The Australian government announced on Wednesday that it will send Sri Lanka thousands of GPS trackers to install on its vast fleet of fishing trawlers in an attempt to prevent asylum seekers from leaving the collapsed nation.

Ms O’Neil made the announcement in which she opened the Fisheries Monitoring Center in Colombo on Tuesday with Sri Lankan leaders and officials.

An estimated 4,000 boats will be installed with the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), where the location of the large fleet will be monitored from the new center.

The $ 5 million tracking system will allow the Sri Lankan government to raise maritime awareness, tackle human trafficking, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, to fight terrorism and ensure that crime syndicates did not use the boats.

In addition, it will allow the Ministry of Fisheries to monitor and ensure that fish are legally caught and that overfishing does not occur to protect maritime ecosystems.

Vessels without trackers or those who remove or deactivate them will be punished by the Sri Lankan government.

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