Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to a Pakistani immigration official’s assessment of Australian migration policy, and I quote:
It [people-smuggling] is increasing and the reason is very simple: you’re not doing anything positive to stop it. You’re sending all the wrong signals. …If you’re going to be so friendly then of course you’re going to get more people.
Isn’t he right, Prime Minister?
I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Under standing order 100, that clearly does not contain any detail of who the quote is from, what the context is, where it is from or any evidence.
Mr Speaker, on the point of order, standing order 100 specifically says that names should not be used unless strictly necessary. The point of the question is the actual quote and that the government is not doing anything other than attracting people, and the Prime Minister is being asked to comment on the government’s policy.
This is a dilemma for the chair because I am in the position that I am being asked to decide whether the naming of the official is required to make the question intelligible to the extent that it can be properly answered. I really do think that in cases like this when somebody overseas is being quoted there should be identification. I will leave it in the hands of the Prime Minister whether she chooses to reflect upon the quote that has been given, but I would say to the member for Dawson that there should be much more precision in identifying a person who is making the quote that he is asking for a response to.
If I could give a new member of the House a tip: don’t take cast-offs from the shadow ministers of questions they are too embarrassed to ask. It normally gets you into trouble. I am not surprised that they would be too embarrassed to ask this one, because obviously it is a completely unnamed, unidentified source, and whoever it is and wherever the words are from they are completely wrong. As a government we have more assets patrolling our borders than ever before. We have a stringent mandatory detention policy. We have made some moves in relation to the circumstances of children. If the member is opposed to them, if the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to those changes in the interests of children, then stand up and say so. We are still waiting for a policy response from the opposition because of their internal divisions on this question.
Whilst the opposition continues to play cheap politics—three-word slogans, stop this, end that, wreck, demolish—we will get on with the job of delivering in the national interest while the opposition stews in its own juices of bitterness, looking to impose that bitterness on the Australian people, putting their political interest in front of the national interest each and every time. The Australian people deserve better than this.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order. I seek leave to table the article in the Australian of 1 November which refers to the quotation, so that it can be put beyond any doubt.
Leave not granted.
I simply say that some of the devices that have been used today make me think that some of the people should reflect upon them. The Manager of Opposition Business was involved in the point of order about identifying who the officer was. The Leader of the Opposition and the Manager of Opposition Business are incredulous but, if we are to see stunts like this, where the information was available and could have been given to the member for Dawson, the generosity that I displayed to the member for Dawson as a new member will not be as forthcoming. The alternative was that I could have ruled the question out of order.