The Gillard Government's border protection policies exposed Australia to "a form of peaceful invasion" and had risked the country's sovereignty, Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott said in Perth this morning.
Speaking at The West Australian's Leadership Matters breakfast, Mr Abbott blasted the Federal Government's latest asylum seeker strategy, in which asylum seekers would be released into the community on bridging visas with no work rights.
"It means that these people will get Australian citizenship with the worst possible preparation - five years of welfare," he said.
"No credible country and no serious Government sub-contracts part of its immigration program out to people smugglers.
"No serious Government and no credible country allows itself to be played for mugs by criminals and that’s the situation that we have got ourselves into."
Almost 8000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat since August 13, when the new processing system was put into effect, and more than 15,500 this year.
Mr Abbott blamed a Federal Government beholden to its Greens allies for the current situation.
He vowed to reinstate Howard Government-era temporary protection visas, offshore processing and turn boats around if it could be done safely.
"A country that has lost control of its borders has, to that extent, lost control of its sovereignty," he said.
"The mark of a sovereign nation is keeping control of who enters the country. If a country cannot control who enters the country it is, in a sense, exposed to a form of peaceful invasion."
In a wide-ranging speech appealing to his WA business audience, Mr Abbott praised WA's role as the "economic powerhouse of Australia" and pledged to repeal the Carbon tax as his first act if elected prime minister, as well as abolish the mining tax.
"These two taxes, which impact so disproportionately on a resource-rich, energy-intensive State as this one will be gone," he said.
Referring to the "skulduggery" of the lingering scandal of Ms Gillard's involvement in setting up an AWA slush fund, Mr Abbott said a Coalition government would look at governance of the union movement.
"One of the early acts of an incoming Coalition Government will be to ensure that union officials who break the same laws will be subject to the same penalties that company directors and company officials are subject to," he said.
"We don't want union officials to be able to get away with ripping off their members almost scot-free."
Mr Abbott panned the "divisive" nature of the Government's policies.
"You will never find from me any attempt to invoke the gender war against my political opponents," he said.
"How dare any prime minister of Australia play the victim card.
"If there's one thing that marks the current Government as utterly unworthy of leading this country it is the attempt to set one Australian against another for party political advantage."
In supporting the live export trade, Mr Abbott said in countries such as Indonesia where houses did not have ready access to electricity, cutting off a fresh meat supply condemned people to being deprived of enough meat in their diet.
And in flagging a "deeper engagement with Asia" he said he wanted to see a greater focus on bringing the best and brightest from this region to Australia's universities in a "new Colombo Plan".