Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her answer yesterday when she sought to excuse breaking her 2002 promise to turn back the boats because 'people smugglers changed the way they worked'. How does the Prime Minister reconcile her answer with the statement of the then Leader of the Opposition, the member for Griffith, before the 2007 election: 'Labor's policy is that if people are intercepted on the high seas then those vessels should be turned around'—or didn't she support that promise in 2007?
Madam Speaker, on the point of order: I am trying to assist the House, and assist you as well in particular. The reason the question, of course, is relevant to the Prime Minister and is not an argument is that the current Prime Minister was then the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and would, you would assume, have signed up to the promises of the member for Griffith, who was then the Leader of the Opposition. That is why we are asking that question.
To the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: I believe that in question time yesterday she put to me a quote of mine from 2002. She is now putting to me a statement of the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Rudd, in 2007. To the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: this is 2013, and so both of those statements are in the past. Yesterday I referred to the challenge of contemporary circumstances. I know coping with the modern age might be too much for the opposition.
Mr Dutton interjecting—
Coping with the modern age might be too much for the opposition. They might be unable to contemplate anything that has happened since 2007.
Mr Abbott interjecting—
But let me assure the Leader of the Opposition, who interjects now, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that, of course, during the modern age we need to deal with modern facts. Among the modern facts we need to deal with is that the Indonesian government have wholeheartedly repudiated the statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when she has pretended to have an arrangement with them. They have repudiated her shallow attempts to try and pretend to the Australian community that she has some special deal with Indonesia.
I would also refer her to the fact that people who actually know about these matters—that is, not the Leader of the Opposition, not the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and not people who sit here in the comfort of this parliament but people who actually go out on the high seas for the Australian nation, like Chris Barrie, former Chief of Navy, and have had to command others who have done this dangerous and difficult work—are now providing, in the modern age, in contemporary times and indeed, when I refer to former Admiral Chris Barrie, as recently as 17 June, advice about how this would put ADF personnel at risk.
I ask the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: on a policy area of importance, on something as important as safety at sea for our ADF personnel, could they try and be a little bit better than this. Could they try and be a little bit better than these cheap and silly games. There they sit, with absolutely no answers, day after day insulting Indonesia and day after day insulting those who actually have expertise on the high seas, with absolutely no policies and absolutely no plans, mired in this kind of frivolous conduct, whilst we get on with the important work of doing what the nation needs done, including in the area of refugee and asylum seeker policy, where day after day they sit there and use their negativity to try and deny the nation the best approaches. (Time expired)
Speaker, I ask a supplementary question to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister travel to Indonesia and personally hold official talks about solutions to the problem of people smuggling—
My supplementary question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister travel to Indonesia and personally hold official talks about solutions to the problems of people smuggling created since 2008 by this government abandoning the Howard government's policies that worked?
To the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's question: of course I do discuss these issues with Indonesia. I have personally discussed these issues with the President of Indonesia. Let me say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: I had the guts to talk through the government's policies with the President of Indonesia. When the Leader of the Opposition had his opportunity in Darwin during the annual leaders summit between me and President Yudhoyono, he lacked the guts.
Mr Entsch interjecting—
When we do talk to Indonesia we have the guts and the truthfulness to talk about government policies. When the Leader of the Opposition did that he had been round the country beating his chest. He campaigned in 2010. 'Stop the boats,' he said wherever he went, 'I believe in turning boats around.' When he sat in a room with the President of Indonesia, what did he do? Not one word about turning boats around passed his lips. He lacked the guts because he knew that the President of Indonesia would just have said no and therefore he knew in that moment that this silly game of 'stop the boats' would have been over. Instead of having the guts to actually put his position, to listen to what the President of Indonesia had to say, he basically sat silent . Well, the people of Australia should judge that. If he does not have the guts as the Leader of the Opposition to say this to the President of Indonesia then, if ever he is Prime Minister, he never will. 'Stop the boats' is a slogan, nothing more, nothing less. (Time expired)