Thursday, 24 October 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government's stable and certain budget is providing important settlement support to migrants moving to Australia, and is the minister aware of any risk associated with alternative policies?
I thank the member for Higgins for her question. Stable and certain economic management allows the government to invest in our immigration program—including in our humanitarian program, which is an important part of our overall system.
In the year that just ended we welcomed some 18,750 people to Australia under the refugee and humanitarian program, one of the most generous programs in the world. We focus on assisting people in greatest need. To that end, this year I have directed the department to increase the women-at-risk component of our humanitarian program to its highest-ever level. Twenty per cent of the program will be reserved for women and children who are fleeing some of the world's most appalling situations. Also, in the humanitarian program, we are focusing on the government's overall objective in immigration of increasing regional migration. I'm very pleased to inform the House today that in the year that just ended we saw the highest-ever proportion of Australia's refugee and humanitarian entrants settle in regional Australia—over 40 per cent.
We'll also invest in settlement services, which help new refugees and humanitarian entrants to become part of Australian life. That's in everyone's interests. It's in the interests of the people who arrive and it's in the interests of the broader community. There are lots of examples under settlement services: the Access Gateway program in Logan, which helps new entrants with access to employment programs, to English and to so many other areas of Australian life; the Red Cross in Wagga, in the Deputy Prime Minister's electorate, who are working closely with the Yazidi community and doing fantastic work helping them with accommodation and with introducing kids to other kids in the area; and so many other important services. Right across the country, there are churches, multicultural groups and community organisations all participating in our orderly settlement services program.
I'm asked by the member: are there risks and alternative approaches? There are. Under the opposition, we saw the most catastrophic failure in Australia's postwar public policy history in its appalling loss of control of our borders. We know the extraordinary economic cost of $17 billion and counting, we know that 17 detention centres were opened and, most tragically, we know that 1,200 people lost their lives at sea. We also know that the Special Humanitarian Program, which previously welcomed 5,000 people a year, was slashed to 500 people under Labor because they lost control of our borders. We run a stable budget and stable borders, unlike those opposite.