Thursday, 17 September 2009
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs, who today is representing the Attorney-General. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has said that he is now considering the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin to provide the extra capacity needed as unauthorised arrivals continue to make their way down to Australia from Indonesia. What is the government going to do when the Darwin detention centre is full?
The first part of the question was clearly in order. The second part does have some queries over it. Questions of that nature have been allowed. On the basis that the first part, referring to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s comment, was in order, I will allow the question.
I thank the honourable member for her question. I did notice that she was conferring with the Leader of the Opposition before the question. That is because the Leader of the Opposition does not have the integrity to ask the question himself.
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Obviously, I would ask you to require the minister to withdraw the imputation that the Leader of the Opposition lacks integrity.
I withdraw. Can I say in relation to this matter that I am also aware that the member for North Sydney was involved in the construction of this question, as are, of course, all members of the tactics committee of the opposition.
Of course, I know there are different views amongst the opposition. We know the member for Pearce, the member for McMillan and the member for Kooyong have a different view with respect to these matters but—
The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. We are having the parliamentary version of Groundhog Day. It seems to be similar to yesterday. If indeed, as people have put to me by submission that this is an important question, perhaps the House might like to listen to the answer in silence. Can I suggest that if people interject, the minister should ignore the interjections and respond to the question.
In relation to the question asked by the honourable member, I am not aware of the comments made by the minister, to which Dr Stone referred in the question. This government takes border protection very seriously. It is for that reason we have dedicated $654 million to protecting our borders. It is for that reason that we have a policy that ensures we work with governments within our region and we work with the law enforcement agencies. Only very recently there was a disruption of the syndicates in Indonesia. That was a direct result of the efforts of this government’s work with the Indonesian National Police to disrupt those ventures and to prosecute the people smugglers. It is the case that there has been an increase in unlawful maritime arrivals. I make this very important point: if we were to determine a government’s performance based on unlawful or irregular maritime arrivals, then the Howard government’s record was the worst in the last 40 years. In relation to the capacity of the detention centre on Christmas Island, it is very clear that—
The member for Murray will resume her seat. On the point of order of relevance, the minister is responding to the implication behind the question: the effect of numbers on the detention centre. He is going to the matter of the arrivals.
In conclusion, the detention centre at Christmas Island still has plenty of capacity to deal with any irregular maritime arrivals. This is an effort by the opposition to dog whistle—that is what they have been doing here—