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Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Page: 662


Mr MORRISON (2:07 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister concede that the government’s failure to reopen Nauru, its failure to make progress with East Timor, its announcement of two new detention centres and its softening of detention policy will only make Australia more of a magnet for people smugglers, not less?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for his question, and let me answer it using the following words in terms of the announcement that the government made yesterday:

I think they represent a very sensible balance on the present arrangements. They do not in any way undermine the existing policy. What we will have even more so after these changes are a mandatory detention system with a softer edge, but nonetheless a mandatory detention system.

I have to acknowledge those words are not mine; those are the words of former Prime Minister John Howard at a press conference on 17 June 2005 when the former government announced the changes to the Migration Act—


Mr Hockey interjecting


Ms GILLARD —on which this government will rely to implement the arrangements announced yesterday.


Mr Morrison interjecting


Ms GILLARD —What I would say to the member who is interjecting and shouting and carrying on—it always seems to me that the shorter they are on ideas, the louder they are on interjections, and we are seeing that on display today—is that it seems to me that the shadow minister would not be contending to this place that John Howard was soft on border protection. The amendments to the Migration Act in 2005—


Mr Morrison —How many are in detention now—none!


The SPEAKER —The member for Cook has asked his question.


Ms GILLARD —and there are some members in this place who were involved in the advocacy from the back bench that led to those changes. The changes to the Migration Act are ones that we are relying on to deal with children and to deal with at-risk families. I believe that that is appropriate. At the same time, of course, we announced our long-term strategy in relation to detention centres. As recently as last week, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship was involved in dialogue in our region about a regional protection framework and a regional processing centre. The government will continue to pursue that regional protection framework and regional processing centre. We believe that that is important to the management of irregular people movement in our region, particularly taking out of the hands of people smugglers the very product that they sell by taking away the incentive to engage in forward transit.

None of this is easy and I am not going to pretend that it is. This is complex policy. We have said that consistently to the Australian people. We will continue to pursue it. We will allow the opposition to pursue their three-word slogans.


Mr Morrison —We have a policy. You may get one soon—we will wait for it. Ask Stephen; he remembers. Ask Kevin.


The SPEAKER —The member for Cook is warned. A warning is a preparation for subsequent naming.