Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister. I refer the Treasurer to this training t-shirt, made and used by the crew of one of our Navy patrol vessels, which refers to them as the 'Ashmore Island to Christmas Island water taxi service'.
When will the government stop using our Navy as a water taxi service for people smugglers and embrace the Howard government's full suite of policies on border protection that stopped the boats?
It is sad that this question is being asked on the day we have the coronial inquiry going on in Western Australia for the deaths of almost 100 asylum seekers just over a year ago. The question should be seen for what it is, which is a pretty disgraceful piece of politicking and seeking to move the opposition away from the fact that they have a completely ridiculous and ineffective alternative to stopping the boats.
Mr Alexander interjecting—
Since May 2011 they have refused to support proposals from this government for regional processing and regional arrangements. Sadly, more boats are coming and, sadly, more people are drowning. We ought to pause there and think about our responsibility as a parliament to put in place the full range and suite of policies which can stop these boats coming and which can deal effectively with the people smugglers.
To that end, in a responsible way, we commissioned the report from Mr Houston and his committee as to a range of proposals which needed to be implemented. The key part of that is regional processing, which was once again rejected by those opposite. They say openly to the public that they support a regional solution and they actively vote against it in the parliament. How can anybody take that mob over there seriously, particularly when their public position has now been repudiated by the Indonesian ambassador and by the Vice-President of Indonesia?
This sort of crude politicking is repugnant. The fact is that we need to put in place a regional solution to deal with the people-smuggling model. We have been frustrated at every part of the evolution of this saga by those opposite, who will not come to the party and who are being negative, just as they are always being negative about everything in this parliament. Their refusal to support regional arrangements just shows how unfit they are for high office.