Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of her first statement on border protection as Prime Minister:
I can understand that Australians are disturbed when they see boats arrive on our shores unannounced. … They want strong management of our borders and I will provide it.
Given that since then more than 580 boats carrying 37,900 illegal arrivals have entered Australia unannounced, will she swallow her pride and reinstate the policies of the Howard government, that worked?
To the member who asked the question, what she ought to recognise is that this government came to this parliament following a High Court case and asked for this parliament to put the government in the same position the Howard government had been in in terms of powers relating to asylum seekers. We came to this parliament following a High Court ruling and said, 'We believe the government of the day should have the same powers available to it as the Howard government had.' And the Leader of the Opposition and the opposition generally decided to vote no to that. They decided to vote no to the government of the day having the same powers as the Howard government.
Opposition members interjecting—
There is a lot of screaming and carrying on, but that is the truth. To the member who asked the question, I say simply this: why did she come into this parliament and put her hand up for more boats? Why did she follow the Leader of the Opposition's lead and come in and put hand up for more boats? Then on alternatives to the current government's policy: what does she think the Leader of the Opposition means when he says, 'Stop the boats'? Actually these days he does not really say, 'Stop the boats.' Now he kind of shambles around and says, 'If I were ever Prime Minister, maybe some time after a few years I might be able to make some little bit of difference.'
That is the current policy of the opposition. Why is the policy in that form? Because the Leader of the Opposition knows the things that he has put at the centre of the policy cannot be delivered. He knew that when he walked into the room with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia and refused to mention his policy to turn boats around. Then he tried to shamble in front of the media and was caught out.
The member who asked the question might then ask herself, 'If the Leader of the Opposition can't mention that policy when he's Leader of the Opposition, what on earth would lead anybody to believe he's going to mention it when he's the Prime Minister if he's ever elected?' The Leader of the Opposition knows that at the centre of his so-called 'stop the boats' policy is an act of dishonesty, an act of trying to fool the Australian people.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to add to that too, pretending she had a secret arrangement with Indonesia, and was repudiated by all. The member for Wentworth is being sent out on ABC TV trying to pretend that he supports this policy; but, once he was challenged about whether or not this would be unsafe if you did not get Indonesia's agreement—of course, there is no prospect of that—he said, 'Yes, it would be unsafe to do so.'
Stop this mendacious campaign. Stop sending your backbenchers in to ask ridiculous questions. You know it is a fraud. (Time expired)