House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Questions without Notice

Asylum Seekers

2:45 pm

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is again to the Prime Minister. I refer him to his previous answers and indeed his answers in this House today. Why is the Prime Minister seeking to absolve himself of all responsibility for the decisions that led to the Oceanic Viking and its 78 passengers spending nine days at sea before dropping anchor off the island of Bintan? If the Prime Minister was not consulted on the decisions that have led to this chaotic episode, why was he not consulted?

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

As Prime Minister of the country, I accept responsibility for our policy on immigration. Our policy is one, as I described yesterday, which is tough and humane. We believe it is the right balance. We therefore believe it is the right approach to be absolutely hard-line with people smugglers and it is the right approach also to conform with our obligations under international law when it comes to dealing with asylum seekers. That is the right approach of a mainstream government in a mainstream country dealing with the challenge, which is a global challenge. As Prime Minister of the country, I accept full responsibility for the policy we have embraced as a government. It is consistent with the undertakings that we made to the Australian people prior to the last election and consistent also with the changes to policy which occurred subsequent to the election, which the member for Murray embraced in her statement of last year though she now chooses to try and distance herself from it.