2013/13: Is the Opposition's 'Operation Sovereign Borders' an appropriate response to asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat?

Introduction to the media issue

Video clip at right:
An ABC Australia-Pacific focus report, looking at Opposition leader's Tony Abbott's Operation Sovereign borders. If you cannot see this clip, it will be because video is blocked by your network. To view the clip, access from home or from a public library, or from another network which allows viewing of video clips.

What they said...
'Why...does wealthy and "empty" Australia worry so much about a few thousand hapless refugees who pass through Indonesia on the way here?'
Hal Hill, Professor of Southeast Asian Economies, Australian National University

'I would... politely explain to the Indonesian government that we take as dim a view of Indonesian boats disgorging illegal arrivals in Australia as they take of Australians importing drugs into Bali'
Tony Abbott, Opposition leader

The issue at a glance
On July 25, 2013, the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, announced that if elected to government, his party would put a three-star commander in charge of a military-led border protection campaign. The policy re-alignment of border security management is part of a broader strategy titled 'Operation Sovereign Borders'.
The 12 agencies involved in border protection would be placed under one command. Mr Abbott said the new structure would provide a unified chain-of-command, with the three-star commander reporting directly to the immigration minister. He declared the recent increase in asylum-seekers arriving by boat a ''national emergency''.
Critics of the proposed arrangement have condemned it as an over-reaction and an unnecessary militarisation of what is not a security threat. Supporters of the policy claim it is no more than a realistic reaction to the current situation and an extension of the successful policies adopted by the Howard Government.