My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Conroy. I refer the minister to the fact that
illegal boats are now arriving at a rate of 1,000 times greater than when Mr Rudd became Prime Minister.
Does the minister now accept that Prime Minister Rudd’s decision to abolish the Howard Government’s successful border protection policies was
a catastrophic mistake, and does the government still stand by its support for this decision?
Faced with the opportunity—clearly sometime on Friday, as it was in Saturday’s paper—Mr Morrison had the chance to endorse the
Howard government policy agenda.
Faced with that, he refused to outline how the policy would be implemented, except to say it would not be—a direct
Mr President, I have a point of order on relevance. My question was very clear and was not particularly wide ranging.
I simply asked: does the government still stand by its support for the decision that led to the catastrophic outcome of a 1,000-fold
increase in the amount of boats arriving? I wonder if you could draw his attention to the question, Mr President.
Order! The minister has been talking for only 28 seconds. The minister still has one minute 32 seconds. I am listening closely to the
minister’s answer, and I draw the minister’s attention to the question.
Thank you, Mr President. I can understand why the questioner just completely reworded his question on his feet to avoid mentioning
the Howard government policies in his point of order.
What we know about the Howard government policies is that the former Defence Chief Admiral Chris Barrie said turning back boats is not fair to the
Navy and will mean asylum seekers will simply sink the boats. We stand by our policy agenda here. We stand by the expert panel on asylum seekers that reported
on 13 August and put forward a range of measures. Senator Scullion cannot airbrush out of his question his reference to Mr
Howard’s policies, because what did Defence Force Chief Admiral Barrie say?
Opposition senators interjecting—
You can imagine that the opposition in government might be able to secure an arrangement with Indonesia.’ What did Mr Barrie say?
‘It’s filthy, dirty work for the Navy.’
Opposition senators interjecting—
Of course it is traditional. He went on to say, ‘The engines had to be rebuilt because they were destroyed as soon as the boats sighted one of
our vessels.’ He said, ‘You put all that into the equation and you ask yourself: what are asylum seeker boats
going to do if this is the policy’—a return to the Howard government policy, as championed by those opposite —’when they sight one of our vessels
on the high seas?'(Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I remind the minister that the first public commitment the Prime Minister
made following her political execution of former Prime Minister Rudd was, ‘I understand the Australian people want strong management of our borders,
and I will provide it.’ After 44,219 illegal arrivals on 724 boats, does the minister believe that the Prime Minister has delivered on that commitment?
When it comes to this issue, those opposite are truly the ultimate hypocrites and ultimate cynics.
The Houston government expert panel put forward a range of recommendations.
We committed to every single one of them. The government, the party, have not always supported all of
those positions, but those over there are more interested in cheap politics than they are in the facts of how to stop refugees getting on boats and risking their lives. What did Mr Barrie also say this morning?
He said: ‘I think we’re going to see a lot more of the sinking of boats and other issues. I don’t think that’s really fair on our people, who have to
go out and do this job.’ So the man who is actually in charge has called it ‘filthy, dirty work’. He also said: ‘It’s not going to work.
I don’t think that’s really fair on our people. I think we’re going to see a lot more sinking of boats.’ (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I also remind the minister of the Prime Minister’s catchcry, when
shadow minister for immigration, of: ‘Another boat, another policy failure’. Given that since 24 June 2010, the day that Ms Gillard formally executed
former Prime Minister Rudd, 585 boats carrying 37,667 people have arrived. Why should the Australian people have any confidence in a Prime Minister who,
according to her own test, has had 585 policy failures
in the last three years? (Time expired)
A set of proposals that contained some very tough measures were put forward.
Those opposite continue to refuse to support the implementation of them, because they do not want
to solve this problem. Those opposite want to keep playing politics.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! When we have silence we will proceed.
Mr President, those opposite want to keep playing politics. While they are playing politics, lives are being lost. People are jumping
on unsafe boats in seeking to come to Australia. If they were being returned to Malaysia, the incentive would shut down the people-smuggling business.
A Malaysian solution would have seen that trade brought to an end, and yet for nothing but cowardly, manipulative political reasons those opposite are
not prepared to introduce it. (Time expired)
Download media release:
130617 Questions on asylum seekers.pdf