Thursday, 4 April 2019
Questions without Notice
Honourable members interjecting—
The call alternates. If any arrangements have been made, I'll just say that the call goes from one side to the other. The member for Ballarat asked a question; the call now goes to the government side. The member for McKellar will begin his question again.
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Can the minister update the House on how a stronger economy helps Australia's law enforcement agencies keep Australians safe? Is he aware of the risks of any alternative approaches?
I thank the honourable member very much for his question. As we pointed out yesterday, we've made a record investment into the Australian Federal Police. We support very much the work of the Australian Federal Police and all of the agencies within the Home Affairs portfolio because they do work to keep Australians safe. My strongest passion has been the protection of children and women against sexual assault, and we've done a significant amount in cancelling visas to kick out of our country people who have assaulted children and women, and we'll continue to do that. We've also made a significant investment into the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. We've done that because we've been able to manage the economy.
When Labor were in government they ran every year at a loss. What happened was that they ran out of money, and the Australian Federal Police and the other agencies weren't able to undertake the additional work that they wanted, whether it was investigations into drug offences, whether it was investigations into outlaw motorcycle gangs, whether it was investigations in relation to paedophiles—whatever it might have been. They cannot do it without the funding. Labor ran out of money. As the health minister pointed out before, when they ran out of money they stopped listing medicines. But they also cut money from the Federal Police. They cut $128 million between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 financial years, they cut $30 million and 88 staff from the ACC between 2007-08 and 2013-14, they cut $27 million and 56 staff from AUSTRAC between 2009-10 and 2013-14, and they cut $735 million and 700 staff from Customs.
Their period in government, as people recall, was a disaster at every level. Fifty thousand people came on 800 boats; 1,200 people, including women and children, drowned at sea; and they put 8,000 children in detention. Did that come at no cost? It came at a cost of $16 billion. If you're spending $16 billion because you've opened up our borders to people smugglers to be in control, you take money away from other areas of expenditure, including health and education and, obviously, policing. In managing the budget and getting it back into a profit this year, we have been able to invest in very important areas like this. Keeping children and women safe is a fundamental responsibility for a federal government, and we have done it in a way that the Labor Party never could. They waste money. They tax and spend but they waste money across government. The fact is that we will do whatever it takes to support Australian families, to support children and women, in particular, right across the community, and we'll do it because we manage the economy and the budget so well.