Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Questions without Notice
Opposition members interjecting—
The member for Deakin will resume his seat. Members on my left will cease interjecting. The member for Grayndler prevented me hearing the question. The member for Deakin will repeat his question. Members on both sides will listen in silence.
My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the legislative steps the government is taking to further enhance Australia's strong border protection policies? Is the minister aware of any alternative policies?
I thank the honourable member for his question. This is a very serious issue and the Australian public know that the prospect of people drowning at sea is a very serious issue. The fact is that when Labor came into power in 2007 Mr Rudd had promised the Australian people that he would have a carbon copy policy implemented—he would adopt the policies of the Howard government to stop the boats and get people out of detention. When John Howard left government in 2007 there were four people in detention, including no children. What we know is that Kevin Rudd completely dismantled the success of that policy such that, tragically and to our national shame, 1,200 people drowned at sea. Last year Labor apologised for that. Labor apologised to the Australian people because they recognised that they had got the policy wrong. In addition to that, thousands of children went into detention and 17 detention centres were opened because the Labor Party could not cope with the influx of people. So people drowned at sea, there was an $11 billion blowout, children ended up in detention and Labor lost control of our borders to the people smugglers.
Well, this government, over the course of the last three years, has stared down the continuing threat of people smugglers. We have dealt with the situation in a consistent way and we have done it in spite of complete opposition from those opposite. When the Leader of the Opposition, who was then a cabinet minister in the Rudd government, went to the last election he wanted the Australian public to believe that he was on a unity ticket with this government when it came to border protection. The Leader of the Opposition is out today suggesting to the Australian public that this problem of people smuggling has gone away. On Sunday on Insiders he said, 'Oh, why don't you just send the people from Manus and Nauru back to their country of origin?' Those two statements demonstrate that this Leader of the Opposition is more incompetent than Kevin Rudd when it comes to border protection and the people smugglers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and around the world will be rubbing their hands together at the moment because they know that they have hit the jackpot with Bill Shorten. They know that they have now found a weaker leader than Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard combined. They have found Mr Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, the would-be Prime Minister of this country, who has demonstrated he does not even understand the basics when it comes to stopping the boats.
This government has presided over success. We have a bill before this parliament that will continue that success. Our policy has not only been to stop drownings at sea and get the kids out of detention, but it is to get people off Manus and Nauru, starting with the families. We will tell you the detail of the bill shortly but we need you support, which is, so far, not forthcoming. (Time expired)