Monday, 23 November 2009
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he has approached directly any other countries, asking them to resettle any of the 78 asylum seekers from the Oceanic Viking? Which countries have been approached and what has been their response?
I thank the member for Curtin for her question. The answer to the honourable member’s question is, no, I have made no such approach. Furthermore, I say to the honourable member for Curtin, consistent with government arrangements, which were long in place when she was a minister in the previous Howard government, that what normally occurs through the UNHCR and relevant governments around the world is that when it comes to the resettlement of individual applicants for refugee status either in places like Indonesia or elsewhere, individual countries are approached through the UNHCR for assistance. I imagine that is what will occur in this case. I imagine that is what will occur in future cases as well. In answer to the honourable member’s question, though, I have made no such approach myself. I also say that, having reflected on—
Opposition members interjecting—
That was the question I was asked. I simply respond to the question as I was asked. I say to the member for Murray, the member for Farrer and the member for Curtin, the reason for them asking this question goes back of course to the Ronaldson doctrine on the following. Remember what the Ronaldson doctrine is; you don’t get news stories by trying to change perceptions—
Mr Speaker, the question went to the handling of asylum seekers. It went to the resettlement of asylum seekers. It went to a range of questions that I have been asked this morning and I am sure the deliberations between the member for Curtin and Senator Ronaldson have been of interest to many members here.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. If in fact there was a genuine debate being marshalled by those opposite about the normal resettlement procedures available under the refugees convention, then of course we would be seized to engage every element of that debate. But we know that it is not. It is all about what the Ronaldson doctrine is about, which is: you don’t get news stories by trying to change perceptions; you get them by reinforcing stereotypes. That is what is going on here.