Monday, 18 February 2019
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the government's strong border security and border protection policies have been so successful? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that would jeopardise these successful border security and border protection policies?
We know that the Labor Party's handling of this issue, with 50,000 people arriving, with 8,000 children forcibly placed in detention and with 1,200 people drowning at sea, was the greatest postwar failure in Australian public policy history. This was an appalling—
Opposition members interjecting—
Tell me what was worse than 1,200 people drowning at sea. Tell me what was worse than that. Tell me what was worse than putting 8,000 kids in detention, because that's what you opposite did. This was an absolute disgrace, a failure and a humanitarian catastrophe. That's what happened, Mr Speaker.
We know that we fixed it. We know that we got the borders under control. We know that we increased our humanitarian program by some 35 per cent, because we were able to manage it effectively. And now those opposite come along and say that they want to undo it all—they want to end offshore processing. Extraordinarily, not only do they want to end offshore processing but, through their notorious amendment 14, and this is very important, they want to apply a lower standard for entry to Australia for people coming from Manus and Nauru than for any other person who comes to Australia on a visa.
One of the principles of multicultural Australia, one of the principles of our country, is that everyone plays by the same rules. Regardless of your background, regardless of where you come from, we play by the same rules, and that is why our multicultural society is so successful. So why should it be the case that people who come to Australia on a permanent visa from India have to pass the character test but people who come from Manus and Nauru don't? Why should it be the case that people who come from China have to pass the character test but people who come from Manus and Nauru don't? I ask that because that's what the opposition's law does. Why should it be the case that people who come from the United Kingdom have to pass the character test but people who come from Manus and Nauru don't?
It's open to the opposition to address this. It's a very simple question: why? Those opposite chose to impose a standard. They explicitly chose to impose a standard which is much lower than what applies to anyone from any other country in the world. Why is that fair? Why did those opposite do it, and please explain to everyone in Australia why a lower standard is appropriate. Why is that fair?
Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting—