Thursday, 25 July 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is for the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on Australia's strong and consistent border security measures? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that would put those border security measures at risk?
I thank the honourable member for his question. As all Australians know, under the Labor Party 50,000 people arrived on more than 800 boats, at least 1,200 people drowned at sea and, shamefully, 8,000 children were put into detention by Labor. There was nothing humane about Labor's border protection policies. We know that Labor's policies—
Mr Husic interjecting—
resulted in a record 2,453 people in detention. We've brought that offshore cohort down from almost 2½ thousand under Labor to 740, and we're reducing it, as quickly as we can, down to zero. We've been able to negotiate third-country resettlement options, including with the US, and 585 people have departed, as at 18 July, to go to the United States. Others have received provisional approval and are in the process of their predeparture arrangements.
We want to make sure that the people smugglers hear a consistent message, because this government is on the side of Australians who want strong border protection policies to make sure that we can decide who comes to our country and the way in which they can be screened before they arrive. It's a very important point. There are biosecurity issues. There are identity issues in the modern age. The thought that somebody could turn up to our country without a passport or without identity documents in the 21st century is simply inconceivable. The reality is that we have been consistent from day one in relation to border protection matters. We've been able to stand up to the people smugglers, but there is a very significant departure now between the two positions.
The position of the government is in contrast to the position of the Labor Party. We know that during the course of this last election, only in May of this year, vessels had already departed in anticipation of a Labor government being elected. There were 41 people on a boat on their way to Australia anticipating a Labor government. The Labor Party had just before the election decided to introduce a very dangerous bill called the medevac law which again sent the wrong message to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and elsewhere. They have been all over the place for years now when it comes to border protection policy. This Leader of the Opposition is trying to be as sneaky as the last leader of the Opposition. He's trying to pretend to the Australian people that he's on their side when it comes to border protection policies, but of course he is not. The Australian public has worked out Labor. They know that Labor remains weak on border protection policies and they know that if Labor was ever re-elected the boats would restart and kids would be back in detention. (Time expired)