Australia will not open its borders, says former foreign minister Downer

Deciding who to let in and under what conditions has always been a sovereign decision of Australia, former foreign minister Alexander Downer said at a Budapest migration conference.

Australians are shocked by how Europe is handling illegal migration and the decisions of some Western European politicians are catastrophic, former foreign minister Alexander Downer said at a Budapest migration conference entitled "MCC Budapest Summit on Migration".

Downer said that in nation states it is always the people themselves who make the decisions and the democratically elected governments are but a means to implement those decisions. He said in Australia there is a consensus that immigrants have to be part of building the country, priority is given to those with specialized skills in the economic areas that have a workforce shortage.

Accordingly, the country calculates every year the actual need and establishes a maximum number Australia will take in.

"We don't believe in the concept of open borders, we believe that we must protect our borders and we spend a lot of resources on that. There are moral reasons for this, because under no circumstances are we going to support organized crime," Downer said.

He added that those coming from crisis areas can count on Australian support: they will be given temporary shelter and can return home once the crisis is over.

Title image: Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer speaks at a Budapest migration conference (MTI/Tibor Illyés)

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