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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6593


Mr MORRISON (2:58 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement as shadow minister for immigration, namely, ‘Another boat on the way, another policy failure.’ Given that under the Howard government there were three boats arriving illegally per year, while under the current government there are three boats arriving per week, will the Prime Minister now admit that this is an area where the government has lost its way and adopt the strong border protection policies proposed by the coalition that previously stopped the boats?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for his question. Of course, I understand that Australians feel a sense of discomfort, disquiet and even anxiety when they see boats intercepted at sea and asylum seekers taken to Christmas Island and potentially other locations for processing. It does make people anxious; I understand that. They look to the government to make sure that we are managing these questions, to make sure we are understanding the full complexity of these questions and to make sure that we are protecting the nation’s borders.

I have a copy of the press release that the member refers to, which I issued as shadow minister in 2003 so it was quite some time ago. But if one looks at the content of the press release, as opposed to just the headline, it indicates that it was my view in opposition that, in order to deal with questions of asylum seekers and refugees, we needed strong, regional engagement with our neighbours, particularly Indonesia. I still believe that. If we look at the content of the press release, as opposed to the title of it, it was also indicating that I thought it was appropriate that there be additional naval assets protecting our border. And guess what? Under this government we have more assets patrolling our border, more than ever before under any other government. What I would say—

Opposition members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister has the call. She is responding to the question. She should be heard in silence.


Ms GILLARD —I understand that this is a complex area of management and a complex area of policy. I also understand that this is an area of policy where views can differ and people want to put forward different views in the debate. The only thing I would say is that, when views are put forward, we owe it to the Australian people, as we address these questions, to make sure those views are properly informed by the facts.