Malcolm Turnbull talks up Australia’s border protection as ‘the best in the world’ ahead of UN talks

Malcolm Turnbull. Photo by Stefan Postles / Getty Images / File

Malcolm Turnbull has described Australia’s border protection policy as “the best in the world” ahead of UN talks in New York where the global flow of refugees is one of the most pressing issues for governments around the world.

“We are facing an extraordinary challenge of refugee movements, of unauthorised movements and migrations of peoples around the world, greater than at any time since the Second World War,” Turnbull said overnight in New York. “We need to have the right responses, we believe in Australia we have set out the right responses and the results make the case. Strong borders, a commitment to strong borders – demonstrating that the Australian Government is in command of who comes into Australia – and at the same time one of the most generous humanitarian programmes in the world and the two go together.”

The government’s policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers who try to come to Australia by boat has been criticised at the UN level for years. Last year the UN Human Rights Council issued a stream of criticism of the border protection policy instituted under the Abbott government. In 2014, the UN Committee on Torture concluded that Australia’s detention of refugees, including children, was “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” and in breach of international law.

Turnbull said Australia had “one of the most generous humanitarian programs… It’s substantially increased up to 18,000 plus 12,000 from the Syrian conflict zone. So we have a very strong record. But you cannot do that and frankly public opinion will not accept a generous humanitarian program, a substantial migration program, unless the government is seen to be in command of its borders. You’ve seen around the world, the way in which uncontrolled migration flows start to destabilise countries and undermine support for migration, undermine support for multiculturalism, undermine the mutual respect which is the foundation of a successful multicultural society like ours.”

Turnbull and immigration minister Peter Dutton will also be attending the American Immigration Conference which will discuss dealing efforts to handle the global surge in refugee flows, particularly from Syria, at a time when US presidential candidate Donald Trump has made a shutdown in Muslim immigration to America a signature issue in his campaign. European governments have also been grappling with security and social issues as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis.