Monday, 14 July 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. I ask the minister to update the House on the government's investment in creating stronger borders in this budget to build a safer and more secure Australia. I ask: what has been the result of these efforts?
I thank the member for Casey for his question. I was just with him over a week ago and I know the keen interest of his constituents in these matters. The government is investing in stronger borders and that investment begins with investing in the right policies to protect our borders—and those policies are getting results. Those results include a 35 per cent reduction in the number of children held in detention in this country and at our offshore processing centres—a 35 per cent reduction from 1,342 at the time of the election down to 861 at this time. There has been the freeing up of 20,000 places in our offshore humanitarian program over five years. There have been no deaths at sea since last September. There have been no successful people-smuggling ventures to Australia in almost seven months.
I notice that the member for Corio was not prepared to ask me a question today; rather, he has just come to the dispatch box again to chuck another hissy fit and leave the chamber so he would not have to ask me a question. If he has got a question, come into the House and ask me one.
Mr Snowdon interjecting—
All of those things have delivered $2½ billion of savings in this budget. That is the dividend of stronger border protection. Today we announced further investment in stronger borders through the establishment of the National Border Targeting Centre, and that was supported not just by the establishment of the centre with $30 million but by a $250 million investment in the broader intelligence and systems capabilities that make such a centre tick so that we could integrate the agencies. Nine specific agencies have now been brought together under a strategic border command, not just to deal with people-smuggling threats but to deal with the issues of terrorism, with the issues of transnational crime and with the many other threats on our borders for those who may seek to do this country harm.
What we have seen from those opposite this past fortnight is a retreat even beyond the weakness of their policies in government when it comes to issues on our border. What we have seen them do is walk away from the enhanced screening policy that they actually pursued in government and supported. They are now weaker in opposition on boarder protection than when they were in government, which is quite an achievement for them to be putting in place. They want to reintroduce the water taxi service. That is the implication of what the opposition have been saying for the last fortnight: people should be water-taxied to Australia rather than turning boats back where it is safe to do so, which is the policy of this government.