The Coalition’s immigration spokesman: Scott Morrison. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe claim
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“Buy the Boats” has joined “Stop the Boats”.

The Coalition wants to work with Indonesian police and an international partner to buy unsafe fishing boats. Spokesman Scott Morrison wants “the option to be able to get that boat before the people smuggler does and stop that boat from leaving Indonesia”.

“That saves lives, it saves the taxpayers’ money ultimately,” he told a Darwin press conference.

It would, if it worked. If it didn’t, it would waste money.

Does it stack up?

Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest coastline. Its fishing industry employs 6 million people. Fishing accounts for 5 per cent of its GDP. In 2004 the United Nations counted 729,682 boats in Indonesia. That number has risen.

Dr Sam Bateman, a retired Australian Navy commodore now at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security, says it’s not “a particularly bright idea”.

“It is so open to abuse. What is a fair price for a boat?” he asks.

Morrison told PolitiFact he wasn’t proposing wholesale purchases, but rather “targeted intelligence-led buybacks”.

His policy has been put forward without the support of Indonesian authorities. Mahfudz Siddiq, the head of Indonesia’s parliamentary commission for foreign affairs, says the plan is “crazy” and “degrading”.

Dr Christopher Roberts of the ANU National Security College doubts whether it is feasible “in terms of implementation, let alone an agreement with the Indonesian side”.

“Do people smugglers come forward and say ‘please buy my boat’? It would need a lot of money when people smugglers can put 100 people on a boat at $5000 a person.”

He says some analysts have labelled Kevin Rudd’s plan to resettle all boat people in Papua New Guinea a “39-day policy” – an unworkable election fix. Morrison’s might be labelled a “15-day policy”.

On ABC’s Insiders on Sunday Tony Abbott conceded it was possible the Coalition would never buy a single boat from Indonesia.

Finding

Morrison says buying Indonesian boats would save lives and save taxpayers’ money. There’s no evidence to support the contention.

A PolitiFact rating of ”pants on fire” applies where a statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

PolitiFact rates Morrison’s claim “pants on fire”.

Fairfax is partnering with the Pulitzer-prize winning service PolitiFact during the election campaign.

Details at www.politifact杭州夜生活m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.