Australian waters should be patrolled for asylum seekers by missile-equipped boats, Bob Katter says, but the arms would be to help deal with other potential threats.
Mr Katter says Australia doesn’t have enough military and customs resources to patrol the massive coastline, and more boats are needed.
His comments come two days after a rickety fishing boat crammed with Sri Lankan asylum seekers surprisingly turned up at Geraldton port after spending weeks travelling more than 5000km.
“The case this week reflects the fact that 90 per cent of our sightings going back 15 years ago came from fishing vessels,” Mr Katter said in Perth today.
“We have only one-tenth of the number of (fishing) boats that we had out there before, so there’s no spotters out there anymore.
“Now as for the Government efforts, they have on average six patrol boats patrolling 16,000 kilometres of northern coastline.
“We need 100 patrol boats, a bit bigger than the conventional patrol boats ... built to take six cruise missiles and have interception capacity.”
The missiles would purely be for defensive purposes, he said.
“Normally, they would operate just as a patrol boat.”
The plan would cost a lot, but Katter’s Australian Party suggests putting aside 10 per cent of customs duty to fund it.
“These people will now have a barrier that they can’t break through and once they know that, they won’t come,” Mr Katter said.
The party has some other plans on immigration but will not reveal them until they become firm policy.
Mr Katter also said opposition leader Tony Abbott could only claim the previous Liberal government was successful in reducing the number of asylum seeker boats towards the end of its term because it turned them back to Indonesia, and called on him come up with a better policy.
“There is as much chance of Indonesia taking a boat back now as I’ve got of becoming an astronaut and going to Mars.”