PM celebrating an ALP win on boats: Marles


The coalition government shouldn't celebrate 100 days of no boats as a victory, especially as it was Labor's tactics that got them there, the ALP says.

The coalition government shouldn't be chalking up 100 days without a single boatload of asylum seekers reaching Australian shores as a victory, Labor says.

"This is not a footy match", opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

"This is not about scoreboards and banners and slogan."

And anyway, it was Labor's tactics that resulted in the win, he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Saturday that "the way is closed" for people smugglers hoping to reach Australia.

But he stopped short of declaring it mission accomplished, with the end of the monsoon season looming.

"The monsoon is coming to an end and traditionally people smuggling operations have picked up at the end of the monsoon," he told reporters in Sydney.

"It's too early to declare the job has been done but nevertheless we can safely say that the way is closed."

He said that during the same period under the former Labor government there were 66 boat arrivals.

Mr Marles said saving lives at seas was "unequivocally good".

But it was too early to proclaim victory.

"It's fine for the prime minister and (Immigration Minister Scott Morrison) to stand in front of big banners on this issue, but ... the critical piece of policy which changed the game here was the arrangement which Labor put in place," Mr Marles said.

The most important step Australia had taken in reducing the loss of life at sea was the regional resettlement arrangement with Papua New Guinea that Labor put in place last year, he said.

Ninety per cent of the flow of boats had stopped before the election occurred, Mr Marles said.

If the coalition had supported Labor's proposed Malaysia arrangement in 2011, the 100-day milestone would have been reached years earlier, he added.

While it might be too early for "chest-beating", Labor would support any scheme that was saving lives at sea, Mr Marles said.

Source AAP

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