Monday, 20 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Opposition members interjecting—
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs: Will the minister update the House on the benefits of Australia's strong and consistent border protection measures? Is the minister aware of any threats to the integrity of Australia's borders?
I thank the honourable member for his question. I know he is very proud to be part of a government that has secured our borders when Labor could never do it. When Labor came into office in 2007, there were four people in detention, including no children. So what did they do? They undid the policy of John Howard that had stopped the boats. What happened? Fifty thousand people came on 800 boats and 1,200 people drowned at sea. The Labor Party set up Manus and Nauru. They put thousands of people onto the islands. They put 8,000 children into detention. We have cleaned that mess up. We've closed the 17 detention centres, we've got every one of those children out of detention and I have not had a death at sea on my watch.
Have the Labor Party thought to themselves: 'Why don't we just reinvent the whole thing again? Why don't we go back and make the same mistakes we did back in 2007?' Of course they have. We saw during the break the Leader of the Opposition being interviewed. It was a very interesting interview on ABC Radio where he was asked about regional resettlement options—that is, where would the people go from Manus and Nauru that he had put on the island? Bear in mind that we have got over 1,000 people off, including over 300 people to the United States in that deal we brokered. When he was asked about what countries he had in mind, Mr Shorten said there was 'a range of countries within Asia in the Asia-Pacific who we could talk to'. The interview went on. Mr Shorten was asked to nominate specific countries and he initially said:
I think there's big economies right through the Asian continent who would be, I think, worthwhile for us to talk to.
What did he nominate? Canada—that great, well-known South-East Asian country! He's taken inspiration from the member for Sydney on geography. The trouble is that Canada is not taking people from Manus and Nauru. He went on to nominate New Zealand. We've already established that, if you send people to New Zealand, the boats restart. And he nominated Taiwan and Korea. Some of these countries take fewer than 10 people a year through their migration program.
It demonstrates that Labor once again are making policy on the run when it comes to border protection. There is no question that the Labor Party would continue to make the mistakes of old if they were elected again. The reality is—and all Australians realise this—that Labor have no capacity to secure our borders. They don't have the strength to stare down people smugglers. Everybody knows that you cannot trust a word that this Leader of the Opposition utters.