House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Questions without Notice

National Security

3:05 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is the outstanding Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government's Operation Sovereign Borders is continuing to keep our borders secure and people smugglers out of business, and is she aware of any alternative policies?

3:06 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the outstanding member for Ryan for that fabulous question. Australia's borders have always been critical to ensuring the safety and the security of our community, and, as many parts of the world go through some pretty serious upheaval, we have been very conscious to make sure that we have very clear and consistent policies on border security that break the people smugglers' model.

It's been well over 2½ thousand days since the last illegal people smuggling boat arrived on our shores. When the coalition came to office, illegal boats were arriving at a rate of several a week, and there were tragic consequences involved with that. Fifty thousand people on more than 800 boats under Labor arrived here, and there were tragically over 1,200 deaths at sea—we don't exactly how many there were because we don't how many boats did not even make it to a level of safety here. As a result of that, there were over 10,000 people in immigration detention, including over 1,000 children. That is Labor's legacy. That is their legacy on borders—which is absolute chaos—and the Australian people should actually be very, very wary, because, back in 2007, those opposite said, with their hand on their heart before the election, that they wouldn't change a thing. Nothing could have been further from the truth, because when they came into government they started to dismantle our very strong border policies. They couldn't help it and, quite frankly, the left of the Labor Party has always won out on borders. That's exactly what would happen again if ever they would come back into government.

Not only did the Leader of the Opposition vote against turnbacks at his own Labor conference, but the member for Gilmore signed a pleading letter to the conference to 'reject mandatory detention, offshore processing and boat turnbacks'. The member for Gilmore has absolutely revealed what the view of those opposite really is, and it is concerning. That was the member's stated position, and so heartfelt was her view on that that she was the No. 1 signatory on a very long list of individuals, including lifetime Labor members and a vast array of union officials.

Operation Sovereign Borders has been particularly effective. We stopped the tide of boats. We damaged the people smugglers' model. And many of the people who were responsible for Labor's failed policy are still here in this chamber today. That gives us no prospect that there will be any change to their policy. (Time expired)