ACT News


Seselja supports Morrison comments

Would-be Liberal senator Zed Seselja has bought into the federal fight over asylum-seeker policy, saying he supports the call for tighter security checks for those released into the community.

But amid the outcry opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison sparked this week in demanding behaviour protocols be applied to bridging visas, the ACT's sitting Liberal senator, Gary Humphries, has refused to comment.

Mr Morrison has been accused of dog-whistle politics and of vilifying asylum seekers with his hard-line reaction to a Sri Lankan man living in Sydney on a bridging visa being charged with the sexual assault of a 20-year-old university student.

The Coalition frontbencher said it was important the government looked at ensuring that police were advised of people being released into the community in their jurisdiction.

''We also believe it is important there be mandatory behaviour protocols put in place for people released into the community,'' Mr Morrison said.

The comments drew immediate criticisms, not only from refugee advocates, the Greens and some Labor MPs, but also from within the Liberal Party.


But Mr Seselja, who recently won preselection to top the Liberal Party's ACT Senate ticket, said he agreed with Mr Morrison's sentiment.

''I support the Coalition's immigration policy. It is needed to fix the mess Labor has presided over,'' he said. ''It is a commonsense approach to have security and health checks before asylum seekers are allowed in the community.

''Canberrans will continue to welcome refugees and other migrants but rightly expect an orderly process is in place, but this should be done in consultation with the ACT government so we are aware of the vulnerable people in our community. We've seen high-profile cases in Canberra such as Captain Emad where processes have failed.''

Senator Humphries, who was dumped by the Liberal Party in favour of Mr Seselja, refused numerous requests to comment on the issue.

Senator Humphries said this week he would recontest the preselection if a soon-to-be scheduled extraordinary divisional meeting of the party found the process that elected Mr Seselja to have been flawed.

''I would have thought that under those circumstances - the fact that Gary has let it be known he is still in the fight - he would be happy to send a strong message to the ACT community,'' a senior federal Liberal Party source said. ''Gary puts himself out there as a leading moderate in the party, yet he won't speak up on this very important issue. Is it Scott Morrison he's afraid of upsetting or the preselectors in the ACT?''