Boat people backflip: Labor’s new Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally is trolled by Peter Dutton as she U-turns on ’embarrassing’ comments about turning back asylum seekers

  • Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton took to Twitter to troll Kristina Keneally
  • He slammed Labor’s deputy Senate leader after she supported boat turnbacks
  • The criticism comes after Senator Keneally made comments in past opposing it
  • In a number of online comments, she labelled the policy as ‘cruel’ 

By Aidan Wondracz For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 19:03 EDT, 2 June 2019 | Updated: 19:08 EDT, 2 June 2019

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has taken a stab at Kristina Keneally after she walked back on her stance on asylum seekers.

Mr Dutton took to Twitter on Sunday to slam Senator Keneally after she voiced support for boat turnbacks and offshore detention, despite labelling them ‘cruel’ in the past. 

‘It’s not for me to offer KK advice, but it might be a good idea to get a security briefing from the Dept before she makes any more embarrassing statements or policy on the run,’ he tweeted.

The former NSW premier said that offshore processing would remain a key element of Labor’s asylum seeker policy.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (pictured) has taken a stab at Kristina Keneally after claims she has walked back on her stance on asylum seekers

Mr Dutton took to Twitter on Sunday to slam Senator Keneally (pictured) after she voiced support for boat turnbacks and offshore detention, despite labelling them ‘cruel’ in the past

‘It ensures that we are clear: if you come here by boat you will not be settled in Australia,’ Senator Keneally said. 

The 50-year-old had previously expressed her dislike at boat turnbacks and even called for a royal commission into the treatment of asylum seekers in a series of Guardian Australia columns. 

In a July 2015 opinion piece, Senator Keneally wrote that turning back the boats went against Australian values.

‘Such action dishonours our past commitments to compassionate welcome and ­violates our international treaty obligations.’ 

In a February 2015 column, she put out a call for a royal commission into asylum seekers and offshore detention.

The comment followed after the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report into the offshore processing of children.

Then in a January 2017 column, Senator Keneally suggested then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull bring refugees to Australia over doubts of a US and Australia refugee swap deal.

At the time, the US agreed to take in asylum seekers intercepted at sea, and in turn, Australia would accept asylum seekers being held at the US naval base Guantamo Bay. 

‘There is a solution to [Malcolm] Turnbull’s Nauru and Manus Island problem that doesn’t depend on the whims of an idiotic and unpredictable US president: bring the refugees to Australia,’ Senator Keneally wrote. 

She has since defended her previous stance and said she is not opposed to boat turnbacks, The Australian reported.

‘Let’s be clear, Labor fully supports boat turnbacks when safe to do so, regional resettlement and offshore processing. 

‘Boat turnbacks are an essential part to making sure people don’t drown at sea.’

Senator Keneally explained that her opinions on border control had changed since she made the comments.

Mr Dutton took to Twitter to take a stab at Kristina Keneally after she voiced support for boat turnbacks following previous comments where she labelled the policy as ‘cruel’

The former NSW premier said that offshore processing would remain a key element of Labor’s asylum seeker policy (stock image)

She said she no longer believed a royal commission was necessary as all the children had been moved off Nauru and Manus Island. 

She also explained she supported the US and Australia refugee swap agreement and only had reservations about the deal.

‘Boat turnbacks looked to be a cruel instrument,’ she told The New Daily.

‘But the conclusion of that article is actually that it is the right thing to do.

‘One, it disrupts the people-smuggling trade and, two it prevents people dying at sea.’

Senator Keneally said she also backed a deal with New Zealand to resettle refugees.

‘I would strongly urge the government to sit down as soon as possible with New Zealand — there is a solution that can be reached regarding the special visa class (to ban them from then entering Australia),’ she told Daily Telegraph.

Senator Keneally’s run-in comes moments after new Labor leader Anthony Albanese unveiled his shadow frontbench.

Mr Albanese has divided his shadow cabinet between 12 men and women, all of whom he says, were given the role based on merit.  

The 50-year-old had previously expressed her dislike at boat turnbacks and even called for a royal commission into the treatment of Asylum seekers in a series of Guardian Australia columns

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