Thursday, 29 October 2020
Questions without Notice
Game Over Campaign
My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday I, along with others in this place, received a petition from the Game Over campaign, championed by Craig Foster and Sonny Bill Williams with Amnesty International. The petition calls on you to accept the New Zealand offer to take 150 asylum seekers each year from Manus Island and Papua New Guinea. This offer has been on the table for several years now, and all the refugees could have been resettled in New Zealand by now. You have opposed, just today, a permanent increase to the old Newstart for our most vulnerable, we are in a recession, yet you are prepared to pay an estimated cost of $573,000 per year, per person in offshore detention. This is obscene. Prime Minister, will you commit to accepting the New Zealand offer without delay? (Time expired)
I thank the honourable member for her question. Obviously, the government has worked very hard to get people off Manus and Nauru. Over a number of years, decisions were made by a previous government where people were put on Manus and Nauru, as you know—
Mr Perrett interjecting—
The member for Moreton was part of the government when people sadly, tragically, drowned at sea, and boats arrived. We have worked very hard, day and night, to get people off. In the case of Manus, we've closed the centre there, as you'd be aware, Mr Speaker. There are people who are living within PNG at the moment; many of them have settled there, with jobs et cetera. In the case of Nauru, as I recall, the latest advice is that the number there is down to 134 people. I would be very happy to bring those people off Nauru tomorrow, but I need to manage it in a way, as we've said before, that we don't see new boat arrivals—because it's actually the policy of both the government and the opposition that, if a new boat arrived tomorrow, those people would go to Nauru. That's the policy of both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. And we don't want that because, as we know, many of those boats don't make it, and people drown. On my watch, nobody has drowned at sea, and I've not sent a single person to Manus or Nauru. I got all of the children out of detention.
We have not ruled out an arrangement with New Zealand. I've said that, and I've been very clear. We will work with New Zealand, as we do on many, many issues. We've worked very closely with the United States, to the credit of previous Prime Minister Turnbull. The negotiations with President Trump resulted in an arrangement for about 1,200 or 1,250 people, potentially, to go from Manus and Nauru to the United States. That number is in the vicinity of 850 or 900, which has been a remarkable outcome, and we will get people off as quickly as possible. But we do know that, up in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam at the moment, there are people smugglers who are attempting to put syndicates together. They are very sophisticated in messaging out, through social media, every word that I say, that the Prime Minister says or that those opposite say. They would take money from those innocent men, women and children tomorrow, not caring whether or not those people would get to Australia. And at the same time, over this period, we have been able to bring more migrants into our country through the Refugee and Humanitarian Program.