Rioters at detention centres shouldn’t be able to get temporary protection visas, federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.


Speaking on Christmas Island, he called proposed changes to the Migration Act “a weak response to the government’s loss of control of our borders”.

“Nothing that’s been announced today will stop the boats or end the protests,” Mr Abbott told reporters.

“The idea that you should reward rioters with temporary protection visas is just wrong …

“Rioters should be rewarded with punishment, not with temporary protection visas.”

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen earlier on Tuesday announced plans to toughen up the immigration character test by denying permanent visas to those convicted of crimes while in immigration detention.

But they may still be eligible for temporary visas which allow them to remain in Australia, although they can’t sponsor family members and can be deported when conditions improve in their home countries.

Mr Abbott said he was yet to see the detail of the proposed changes.

“As for this legislation, well, we’ll determine our position

when we see it,” he said.

“We’ve got to send the people smugglers and their customers a very clear message, you have no product to sell, and the product that they have to sell under this government is permanent residency in Australia.”

On Wednesday last week, a riot involving 100 detainees broke out at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, leaving nine buildings gutted by fire.

The riot came six weeks after a similar incident at the Christmas island detention centre.