Senate debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023


Instrument of Designation of the Republic of Nauru as a Regional Processing Country

5:00 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of this motion. I've been speaking about illegal refugees coming to the Australian border since the late 1990s—since my first time in parliament. So I'm not new to the topic at all, and I have been speaking strongly about it. It's absolutely critical that criminal people smugglers and their customers are sent a very strong message: if you attempt to break our laws and breach our borders then you will never be allowed to settle in Australia. This message can only be backed by maintaining offshore processing of those who do the wrong thing and engage criminal people smugglers to get them to Australia in a leaky boat.

While One Nation strongly supports this motion, we know that Labor's terrible record in deterring people smugglers means it cannot be trusted to keep our borders secure: 50,000 people arriving on more than 800 boats during the Rudd-Gillard governments stand as an appalling testament to this fact. So do the attempts at breaching our borders which occurred last year after Labor won the election. And so does the fact that Labor didn't move to address this matter in October last year. To listen to Senator O'Neill make reference to the previous government and their three ministers making their comments in this parliament—that it was their fault! I'm sorry, didn't Labor win the election in May? This was pointed out in October; it expired in October, this is now February 2023 and you've had how many months to deal with this? That is why you are actually scrambling to get this through today, because you knew that you had lost sight of it. That's the problem with all this: you haven't owned up to it and you're attempting now to still blame the coalition for something you have failed to do. So I totally agree with what Senator Scarr has said.

The fact is that this was a matter in October last year, leaving Australia without a clear legal avenue to send people-smuggling victims offshore. That was the whole point. If the boats had come here and people had arrived on our shores, you would have had no place, legally, to send them. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't believe you would have had a right to send them to the detention centre in Nauru. You would have had to take them into Australia, which would have caused more legal problems. Only by committing to offshore processing in places like Nauru can we arrest the tide of smuggled people that would override our borders. This requires unwavering commitment and, unfortunately, a great deal of Australian taxpayers' money.

According to the Australian National Audit Office in 2016, four years worth of garrison and welfare support at Nauru and Manus Island cost more than $3 billion. So it is in our interests to stop the people smugglers sending people here as refugees—not genuine refugees, but economic refugees. That's because it costs us that amount of money. More than $2.5 billion of this alone went to Transfield Services Australia. This was originally an Australian and New Zealand company; however, it was taken over by a Spanish company. It's important we don't use foreign companies to provide these services, and ensure that Australian taxpayers are only paying local companies for these services.

To listen to Senator McKim and his comments about compassion towards refugees: I think it is being compassionate to give a clear message that there is a detention centre and that if you get on the boat and you want to come to Australia then, I'm sorry, you will go into a detention centre. Those 1,200 people who lost their lives didn't expect to die on the water when coming out here. That is being compassionate—stopping people who could otherwise, unfortunately, lose their lives.

Senator McKim also talked about the torture on the island and the lack of attention and hospitals. It's been brought to my attention by security guards and others that have worked on the island that the hospitals on Nauru are actually a lot better than our own hospitals in Australia. The services they provide are No. 1. The amount of money that's poured into that country—it's unbelievable what it has cost the Australian taxpayers.

He talks about what's happened over there. He talks about child abuse, sex abuse, murder and many other issues. That is the exact reason why we don't want those people here. Why would we want sex offenders, murderers and child abusers? A lot of this has been self-inflicted. We had briefings on this, and we were told that these people, in their desperation to get to Australia and settle here—because it's all about welfare; we're an economic country with economic means, and that's why they want to come here—actually harmed their own children, pouring boiling water over them. They ate pebbles and rocks to get here to Australia for the services they required. There actually was rape, and this is the type of people that they are. We couldn't find out their backgrounds. They destroyed their identification. That tells you something about their character and who they are. If they were upfront and if they were genuine refugees, they would have told us. These people have had the opportunity to be taken off Nauru. They've been given the option to move to other countries. Guess what? They don't want to go. They have been given choices. Their choice is that they want to stay on Nauru.

The Greens are jumping up and down about torture and these poor people and all the rest of it. I wish they would care as much about the people here in Australia: the people that are homeless; the people living on the streets; the people living in their cars with their children; and the people that are couch surfing with friends or wherever they can find a place to sleep that night. I don't hear any of that from the Greens. They are supposed to be representatives of the Australian people, but all they're worried about is refugees that have passed through many countries to get out here to Australia. They could have found a safe haven wherever they wanted to.

I'm sick and tired of hearing from bleeding bloody hearts. Tell me about the real people out there in Australia who are struggling and doing it hard. Tell me about the poverty of the children in our own country. That's what we need to be talking about. Nauru sends a clear message to those people smugglers and everyone else: don't think because we're going to shut it down that you can get on your boats and come out here to this country as illegal refugees. And they are illegal. There are ways you can come here legally. Just ask the many migrants that now call this place home and are proud of it. You put in an application in other countries, and you make your way through the legal channels. Don't think that paying people smugglers thousands of dollars to come out here is the way to do it and gain the sympathy of some bleeding hearts in this place. Because that's not the way and that's not what the people of Australia want. Those people who have been genuine refugees who came out here to Australia and who actually migrated here back me up in what I say because they know that they had to go through the hard channels to get here. They hate these people who want to come through the back door, and they can't stand members in this place who can't see that.

Even though the arrangement with Nauru has lapsed, the fact is that Labor is trying to do something about it and keep it open. The cost is horrendous, but I think it would be more costly to Australia if we didn't keep it open. What I would like to see is downsizing and ensuring that the money is well spent. Two hundred and forty million dollars is a hell of a lot of money as far as I'm concerned. It just needs to be ticking over to ensure that we send a clear message out there: if you want to come out here illegally, you'll end up in a detention centre offshore, and it doesn't mean that you will get citizenship in Australia or permanent residency.


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