Labor senator and new shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally has effectively revoked her 2015 comments on Australia‘s treatment of asylum seekers, saying her office will support boat turnbacks and the continual use of offshore detention centres.

In short: if you were hoping Labor would provide a strong alternative to the Coalition government’s practices, tough luck.

Speaking to The Australian in regards to a Guardian column she penned before entering the Senate, Keneally said she no longer “instinctively disliked” the idea of pointing asylum seeker vessels back to their point of origin.

“Labor fully supports boat turnbacks when safe to do so, regional resettlement and offshore processing,” she told the paper today.

Keneally said she still backs Australia’s agreement to resettle some refugees in the US, and called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take up New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern‘s offer to rehome 150 asylum seekers per year.

However, the former NSW Premier tempered her previous comments suggesting Australia could, you know, just settle them here. 

Resettling asylum seekers in Australia “was a solution and if the government didn’t take it up, then they needed to find another solution,” Keneally said.

Keneally said the government should work harder to find third-party nations for detained asylum seekers to resettle in.

Despite saying her party would not work against many of the government’s key policies, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton went on the offensive after Keneally’s appointment to the shadow ministry.

“There is nobody less qualified in the Labor Party on border protection policies than Kristina Keneally,” Dutton told reporters yesterday.

He also took to Twitter to have a swipe.

Three more years of this, folks.

Source: The Australian
Image: Lukas Coch / Getty Images