Monday, 27 November 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, representing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. Can the minister update the Senate about the recent relocation of the residents of the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea to their new accommodation?
I can confirm the government of Papua New Guinea has now closed the Manus regional processing centre. I am advised that all residents have now relocated to alternative accommodation, and the Australian government welcomes this development. Residents were told in May of this year that the regional processing centre would be closing on 31 October. They were advised that refugees could relocate to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre or West Lorengau Haus, and that nonrefugees could relocate to Hillside Haus. The alternative accommodation provides residents with food, water and medical services. These services have been provided since 31 October. The Prime Minister of PNG has advised that the facilities at the new accommodation are better than previous facilities.
The Turnbull government has made it very, very clear that these men will not be coming to Australia. There are, however, a number of options available to them. Those found to be refugees can resettle within PNG under the agreement put together by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill in 2013. They can also apply for resettlement to the United States of America, or, alternatively, they can apply to move to Nauru. Failed asylum seekers who are in PNG illegally are encouraged to return to their country of origin, as hundreds have already done.
One thing we cannot do is allow those who have paid people smugglers, who have subverted our laws, to deliver backdoor paths for non-genuine refugees to enter Australia. The Turnbull government takes a very, very strong stance in relation to this matter, and we will not allow our borders to be handed over to the people smugglers.
Unfortunately, I am, and the person actually appears to be in this chamber—and that is, of course, the Greens spokesperson for immigration, Senator McKim, who I understand has travelled to Manus Island to peddle false hope to the residents there. Senator McKim has gone to Manus Island twice to encourage those who were in the regional processing centre to not cooperate with the Australian or the Papua New Guinean governments, and he has done this quite—
This type of behaviour is highly irresponsible, as is behaviour that encourages the men on Manus Island to defy the decisions of the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments and that misleads them into believing that they may well be able to come to Australia. Again, the Turnbull government has made it abundantly clear: we will not allow the people smugglers to again take control of our borders.
Yes, I can. We all know the Labor Party does not believe in controlling Australia's borders. It's in its DNA. Certainly, the Leader of the Opposition's hand-picked candidate for Bennelong, Kristina Keneally, is a strong advocate—quite proudly so—for weakening our nation's borders. Like the former Labor-Greens government, she would happily see the people smugglers put back in charge of our borders. In fact, she is actually on the record as saying this. In February 2015, Ms Keneally wrote an article for The Guardian, in which she stated:
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. People are not safer because our government stopped the boats.
Well, yes, they are, because 1,200 people died under the former Labor government's policies—1,200 people—when they attempted to come to Australia by boat. A vote for someone who believes in weakening our borders is a vote for chaos and a loss of control.