Monday, 2 December 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Cash. Can the minister please update the Senate on how the government is addressing real issues of importance to Australians, including through its work talking about the scourge of people smuggling in our region?
I thank Senator McGrath for the question. The Australian government's first priority will always be to keep Australia and Australians safe. On this side of the chamber we understand that a fundamental responsibility of the Commonwealth government is the security of our nation and its people. It is a result of the strong policies that have been implemented by the coalition government that the people smugglers' business model has been comprehensively destroyed. This has only occurred because we have stood firm. We have stared down the people smugglers. But not only have we stared down the people smugglers, we have stared down attempts by those opposite, of course, and attempts by the Australian Greens to water down border protection policy in this country.
When we were first elected to office, we put in place policies that the Labor Party and the Australian Greens said would never work. Not only did they say they would never work, they were fundamentally opposed to them. We have turned back the boats when they have tried to illegally come to Australia. That is a policy that has worked. It is also something that those on the other side said was impossible to do. We have introduced temporary protection visas, something those opposite still oppose. We are clear in our policy stance: anybody who attempts to come here illegally will never be settled in Australia. As a result of these tough-but-fair policies, we have ensured that the Commonwealth government—the coalition government—has taken back control of border security in Australia, unlike the former Labor government, who outsourced this important policy to the people smugglers.
What we know is that when you outsource border protection policy to the people smugglers, you are admitting that you have lost control of Australia's borders. Stopping the people smugglers is important not just in relation to border integrity but also to avoid the chaos that we saw under the former Labor government. Let us not forget the disastrous results of the former Labor government's outsourcing of border protection policy to the people smugglers. We saw 50,000 people arrive here illegally on over 800 boats. In fact, at one stage they were issuing a press release on a boat arrival per day. There were 1,200 deaths at sea that we know of, 17 detention centres were opened and over 8,000 children were detained when Labor were last in government. And, of course, there is the now $16 billion blowout in costs as a result of their disastrous policy failure. (Time expired)
As Senator Molan knows well, the coalition government has ended the chaos under Labor's border protection policy by using Operation Sovereign Borders. That's why I refer to Senator Molan. Turn back boats where it's safe to do so, offshore processing and temporary protection visas—we are proud of our policy and the results under Operation Sovereign Borders. There have been zero deaths at sea. We have closed 17 detention centres. We have removed all of the children from detention. We have gotten all of the children off Manus and Nauru. We have increased the humanitarian program to 18,750, and we've also provided a generous humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis through the intake of an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees. All of this will be at risk if you ever elect a Labor government. (Time expired)