Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Asylum Seekers, Department of Immigration and Border Protection

3:12 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Strangely, I agree entirely with the first words that Senator Carr entered in this debate. I will repeat them: what a difference 2½ months make. One and one-quarter months before the coalition took over, some 2,311 illegal boat people arrived on our country, and in 1¼ months after—making a total of 2½ months—only 544 people entered Australia illegally by boat. So Senator Carr is absolutely right: what a difference 2½ months has made when you have a contrast between an incompetent, incapable Labor government and the Abbott government. I congratulate the minister on the work she and Mr Morrison have done in reducing that flow of illegal boat arrivals from 2,311 in 51 days before we started Operation Sovereign Borders down to 544 people since.

I can take Senator Carr's analogy further: what a difference six years makes. Six years ago in the last days of the Howard government the Australian taxpayer was contributing $85 million a year to looking after our borders and those who had arrived illegally. I repeat that: $85 million. It is a big amount of money. But under six years of Labor that annual figure has grown to $11 billion per year. Contrast $85 million to $11 billion. What a difference six years has made.

Also, six years ago under the Howard government there was not one child in custody as a result of illegal boat arrivals. In the last days of the Labor government there were some 3,000 children in detention, and 2,000 of those 3,000 children were actually locked up. Contrast that. So Senator Carr is definitely right—what a difference six years has made since the administration of the Howard government and the administration of various Labor governments. Again, I congratulate the minister in this chamber and the minister in the other chamber on the work they have done to stop this vile trade that costs the lives of so many people wanting to leave their country and settle in Australia.

I refer Senator Carr to another fact which the minister has mentioned and which I have been talking about for years. For all the bleeding hearts who say we are cruel to the illegal arrivals in our country, for every one of them that comes to Australia, we deny to those tens of millions of people who have been living in squalid refugee camps around the world for years their opportunity to come to our country. We deny them that because Labor simply allowed people in who attempted to get here illegally, who did not go through the UNHCR process, who did not do what every other of the tens of millions of refugees did around the world and who jumped the queue. Those who were waiting in those squalid camps for their turn to get into Australia were put back by your government because you allowed the queue jumpers in, and the people living in those squalid camps were forced to remain.


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