back to top

Albanese Says He Couldn't Turn Back Asylum Seeker Boats

"I couldn't ask someone else to do something that I couldn't see myself doing."

Posted on

Speaking on the ABC's Insiders program, Albanese said "I couldn't ask someone else to do something that I couldn't see myself doing."

"If people were in a boat, including families and children, I myself couldn't turn that around. I would want to make sure that they were safe and secure."

His comments come after Labor's national conference voted against a motion that would have banned Labor from adopting the turnbacks policy on Saturday.

The controversial motion, touted as a make or break moment for Labor leader Bill Shorten, pitted the left and right factions of the Labor party against each other in an emotional debate.

Other motions on asylum seeker policy were also passed at the conference, including a proposal to double Australia's refugee intake to 27,000 per year.

Despite emotional scenes and internal division around the contentious turnbacks policy, Albanese said Labor was in a "strong position" to move forward with a plan for the 2016 election.

"I think our position has been enhanced in terms of winning the election as a result of this conference," he said.

Albanese would not be drawn on fellow senior members of the left, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong, who sent proxies to vote on the motion rather than defy Shorten themselves.

"That's a personal decision for them," Albanese said, pointing out that he is not in the Labor leadership group.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.