Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has criticised his Labor counterpart Kristina Keneally. Picture: Kym Smith
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has criticised his Labor counterpart Kristina Keneally. Picture: Kym Smith

‘Fake and phony’: Keneally blasted for trafficking claim

HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has criticised his Labor counterpart Kristina Keneally as a "fake and phony" after her claims of a people smuggling crisis at airports were debunked.

Ms Keneally claimed earlier this month people-smugglers had made the shift to air travel, according to The Australian.

"What this represents is criminal syndicates and illegitimate labour hire companies are trafficking people into the country to work, and to work often in exploitative conditions, those close to slavery," she said.

Labor Home Affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally. Picture: Kym Smith
Labor Home Affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally. Picture: Kym Smith

Despite her claims, the Home Affairs October update said there was "no evidence to support that a large volume of air arrivals are claiming protection and being subsequently exploited".

Of the more than 8.8 million temporary visas granted in 2018-19, only 69 were identified as potential human trafficking victims by the Australian Federal Police.

Of that number, only 10 claimed protection.

Mr Dutton today told reporters in Canberra Ms Keneally's reputation had taken a hit over the claims.

"Kristina Keneally's red herring on this has been blown completely out of the water," he said.

"There are people within the Labor Party now who are questioning her judgment, people who are questioning her sincerity and this continuous vanity project that she's on is just not in the best interest of the Labor Party and frankly our country.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton called Kristina Keneally “fake and phony”. Picture: Kym Smith
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton called Kristina Keneally “fake and phony”. Picture: Kym Smith

"She wants to distract away from the boarder failings of the Labor Party, but I think she's been called out as a fake and phony and she's got a lot to answer for."

With minutes of Mr Dutton's press conference wrapping up, Ms Keneally released a statement doubling down on her claims.

"The issue of aeroplane people claiming asylum and being exploited here in Australia is real," she said.

"As confirmed by ABC Fact Check last week, 100,000 people have arrived into Australia by aeroplane to deliberately attempt to 'game' Peter Dutton's go-slow asylum claim system so they can work in Australia and send their wages back home.

"90 per cent of these individuals are found not to be genuine refugees but can stay in Australia for upwards of four or even five years, working in exploited conditions."

Mr Dutton also announced he would today introduce a bill to increase checks on people who work at air and seaports.

"It's unacceptable that we would have people who have links to outlaw motorcycle gangs or indeed have a listing on the National Crime Target List and that they would be the holder of a security card at one of our airports," he said.

He further claimed 277 people with airport security cards had links to motorcycle gangs.



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