House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013


National Security

3:23 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) Share this | Hansard source

on information that matters, that relates to national security matters, I can assure you we will provide those briefings. However, on the last occasion we provided such briefings to the opposition, to the shadow Attorney-General, we saw that some of that information was actually used publicly in a manner that was not proper—that was, in fact, improper. So we are very happy to convey to the opposition, so that they are aware of the facts, information in relation to these matters. But what we will not do in this case, or in any case equivalent to this, is to allow the opposition to play with national security like it is a political football. That is not something that an alternative government would ever contemplate doing.

This matter has been, of course, examined in estimates. Indeed, I have answered a question in question time in relation to the person and the circumstances in which he was detained. I also made it very clear that our agencies were involved beyond the detention itself, and I have made clear, too, that the person is now in high security detention.

But the fact is: the reason why this motion is being brought on today is that the member for Cook and the member for Stirling are of course trying to scare the Australian people in a way that really is quite outrageous—they are trying to scare the Australian people. What we know is: when they have nothing positive to say in relation to a whole range of areas of public policy, the opposition leader authorises a number of frontbenchers to try and create fear and anxiety in this country. Well, that is not going to be the appropriate response in this instance, and nor is it the way in which we should be dealing with these matters.

I make it very clear again: if the shadow minister, the member for Cook, or the member for Stirling want to be briefed more fully on this, then I can assure those members opposite that those briefings will be forthcoming so that they can actually be provided with all of the information. And if they have any questions arising out of such briefings, I am certainly happy for those questions to be put—with one caveat, and one caveat only: that that information is not disclosed publicly or used as a political plaything. Yet that is what we have seen done by the shadow Attorney-General and indeed other members of the opposition in recent times.

We have, of course, some very serious issues to deal with here, but it is quite extraordinary that the opposition want to, on the one hand, raise issues of national security and border protection but, on the other hand, not listen to the experts when it comes to dealing with our borders. It is quite extraordinary that they want to raise matters here today but, when it comes to the experts making recommendations about protecting our borders, where are they then? Where is Tony Abbott then?


No comments