The man charged with protecting Australia’s borders says a coalition pledge to introduce tougher penalties for convicted people smugglers is nothing more than an election stunt.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor says Labor itself toughened the relevant laws three months ago.
“At that time, (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott had the chance to make amendments, but he didn’t,” he said in a statement.
“If Tony Abbott was serious about stopping people smuggling and really wanted these few small changes he might have had that by now.
“But the truth is, he’s not serious – it’s just another stunt.”
Mr Abbott on Sunday announced that repeat offenders would face a minimum 10-year prison sentence under a coalition government.
In addition, existing minimum and non-parole periods will be increased for those convicted of “aggravated” people smuggling, as well as those convicted of crimes involving the preparation and or provision of false documents.