Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
Department of Immigration and Border Protection: Policy
My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the importance of strong and consistent border protection policies? What are the risks to maintaining strong border protection into the future?
I thank the honourable member for his question. This government has achieved a lot in the space of national security. As we approach a federal election, the Australian public will focus very clearly on who is united to make sure that we can defend our borders and to keep our community safe. They can look at the record of those opposite to determine whether a Shorten led government would have the capacity to stop the boats and to provide national security.
When Labor went into government in 2007, there were four people in detention and there were no children. Two thousand children entered detention and 10,000 people went into detention under Labor because 50,000 people came on 800 boats. We have been able to reduce the number of children in detention from 2000 down to zero—down to zero! At the same time we have been able to stop the boats and to close 13 of 17 detention centres.
What you will not see in the budget tomorrow night is an $11 billion blow-out in border protection. That is what happened under Labor when they were in government last, an $11 billion blow-out, because they completely lost control of our borders and national security. I am very interested to have a look at what the Labor Party have had to say over the course of the last 48 hours or so, because the Leader of the Opposition wants the Australian public to believe that they are as united as this side of the House when it comes to border protection. They want the Australian public to believe that if Mr Shorten were elected at the next election he would just implement a continuation of the policies that this government has presided over—but they would not, because five members so far have stood up and opposed this Leader of the Opposition. As you look, there are a few heads down there at the moment, but there are five people and counting who have stuck up their hands publicly to oppose Bill Shorten, to say that they would stand against a Labor leader if he were to be elected at the next election. Do you know what that means? It means a green light for people smugglers.
This side of the House has been united and has stood as one in staring down the threat of people smugglers. If we are re-elected, we will continue to do it. But let us note: we know that there are many on the front bench that would sit in the National Security Committee of Cabinet if Mr Shorten were to be elected as Prime Minister who are vehemently opposed to the policy when it comes to stopping the boats. This side, under this Prime Minister, is absolutely adamant that we will secure our borders so that we can have a safer community. The Labor Party stand for a dead opposite policy.