Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Asylum Seekers, Department of Immigration and Border Protection

3:22 pm

Photo of Sean EdwardsSean Edwards (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I will remind those over on the other side that since they dropped all of the border initiatives from the Howard days, which were working, and they have been dragged kicking and screaming—

Opposition senators interjecting—

I will remind you of where you have been dragged kicking and screaming. Since 2007 you have pursued 11 failed approaches to border protection, and I will remind you of them. The Labor Party extended appeal rights and legal assistance in November 2008. Pay attention! Then there was the Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum freeze in April 2010. This is how you tried to address the asylum seekers coming to this country. There was the East Timor solution in July 2010. There was the Afghan return solution in 2011. You were reeling at this stage; you had no idea. You were the proverbial rabbits in the headlights on border protection in this country.

Then we had a new one. This was another approach. You said, 'We'll have a regional processing framework.' That was in March 2011. And we all remember this one: the Malaysian people swap in May 2011, when I think your Prime Minister announced it before anybody in cabinet knew about it. In fact, I think it was even before the Malaysian government knew about it. But that is okay: in the interests of getting out a press release every four minutes of that chaotic government that you once sat in and now try to defend, we had that.

I will keep going. This is your answer to border protection: Manus Island—we'll call it mark I, shall we?—in August 2011. Let me remind you. You are a bit quiet now; you are starting to think, 'This is starting to look like a fiasco.' Then we had the community release with work rights policy in November 2011. By this stage you have all lost a bit of interest, haven't you, because the budget has blown out. Eleven billion dollars—what the hell, we'll just borrow some more! Earlier today you saw us having to borrow more money, put another cap on so that we can try to fix the mess over which you all presided just 60 days ago. I have still got more. We got the full appeals to the RRT and the Federal Court in March 2012—that'll work! Then the Houston expert panel in August 2012.

Senator Sterle interjecting—

This is your record—through you, Mr Deputy President, to Senator Sterle—on border protection. You have got nothing to be shrill about.


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