Monday, 24 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that three years ago today she promised to restore strong management of our borders. Since then there have been 38,340 illegal arrivals by boat on nearly 600 boats, almost six times higher than under Prime Minister Rudd. Can the Prime Minister explain how she has kept that promise?
I thank the member for his question. Of course the member, I believe, knows the answer. The answer in part lies in the fact that this parliament was called upon to respond to a High Court decision to put us in the same position that the former Howard government was when it came to refugee and asylum seeker issues. In response the member who asked the question came in and voted for more boats—voted for more boats! This joins just a welter of negativity from the opposition to undermine the nation's ability to deal with refugee and asylum seeker issues.
The opposition said no to the recommendations of the expert panel which the government has fully accepted. To the extent that we cannot implement all of those recommendations, it is because the opposition has said no and is standing in our way. The opposition said no to the Malaysia agreement, something that would have made a contribution sending a shock up the people-smuggling pipeline, but the opposition said no.
The Leader of the Opposition has been out with a document pointing to what he claims is an increase of 20,000 public servants and saying that he will cut those if he is ever Prime Minister. I urge him to look at the details, because many of those cuts would fall on agencies involved in security and border control. Then, of course, we have seen the opposition insult the Indonesian government. We have seen—
In dealing with the refugee and asylum seeker issues, we have not only seen the expert panel recommendations thrown out by the opposition, we have also seen them throw out the advice of defence personnel about how to deal with boats on the high seas.
Against that track record of the negativity, what has the government done? Even in the face of that negativity, even in facing the determination of the opposition to vote for more boats, to hope that there are more boats to see their political advantage in more boats, we have gone about implementing the recommendations of the expert panel, and that is what we intend to continue to do.
Madam Speaker, page 543 of Practice requires that a minister must inform herself to be ready to answer questions placed by the opposition and others. Giving the answer that—
Government members interjecting—
As the government continues to implement the recommendations of the expert panel, I say to the member who asked the question: perhaps he ought to provide some clarity to the Australian people—given the opposition is now shambling around unable to answer the question when it would 'stop the boats'—how on earth the opposition says it would implement the policy. We have seen the ludicrous boat phone policy of the Leader of the Opposition. We have seen the insults to Indonesia. It is time to stop the sloganeering and start dealing with the policy substance. (Time expired.)