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Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Page: 1540


Mr CRAIG KELLY (2:27 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. In question time yesterday, the Prime Minister refused to rule out using other defence facilities for detention centres in the future. Instead, she referred back to her statement on 18 October that named five sites: new centres at Woodside and Northam, the expansion of Darwin Airport Lodge, and contingency sites at Darwin and Melbourne. Besides those five centres, will the Prime Minister now rule out using other defence bases or any other Commonwealth land for detention centres in the future?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Hughes for his question. The federal government has announced its plans. We have no other plans than the plans we have announced. They are the ones that we will proceed with. We announced those plans and ensured that there was transparency because we were well aware that in many parts of Australia people with no solution to this complex problem were out raising fear in local communities and we believe that to be inappropriate. We have provided clarity about our long-term plans.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on a point of order as to direct relevance: the Prime Minister is answering in the general, and she was asked very specifically whether she would rule out using other military bases or Commonwealth land for detention facilities.


The SPEAKER —Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is responding directly to the question.


Ms GILLARD —The answer I gave to the question yesterday stands. I refer the member to the information we released at the time we announced our plans.


Mr Morrison —If you are not doing it, rule it out.


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Cook will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Cook then left the chamber.


Ms GILLARD —If the member who asked the question has a very specific local concern that he wants an answer to then, of course, my door is open, as is the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s, to give him a very specific answer.


Mr CRAIG KELLY —My supplementary question is to the Prime Minister. Further to the Prime Minister’s answer, will she rule out using the Holsworthy military base as a possible detention centre?


Mr Melham —You were going to make it an airport.


The SPEAKER —The member for Banks! Whilst the member for Banks was outside of standing order 65(b) and is very lucky, he would have had 20 compatriots on my left leave with him if I had been applying the ruling. I do not know what is in the water today, but people should settle down. The question has been asked and the Prime Minister has the call.


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —The answer to the member’s question is this: if the member has people in his local community who ask him that question then he should say to them very clearly and very directly that there are absolutely no plans for a detention facility at that base. As he well knows, it is a working defence base and if he gave any other answer, if he in any way tried to raise fear or apprehension in local community members, he would not be telling them the truth. I am sure that the member, as a new member of parliament, would want to go back to his constituents and tell them the truth. So, if any of his constituents—


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer you to page 553 of the House of Representatives Practice, which dealt with the old definition of ‘relevant’ when it was a general issue and not, under the new standing orders, when it must be a direct answer. Under the old standing orders, for the Prime Minister to say that she was not considering or contemplating opening a new detention centre would have been relevant. She was asked, ‘Will she undertake not to open one at Holsworthy?’ Under the new definition of directly relevant, she has to answer that question to be within the new meanings.

Government members—She did.


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —No, she did not; she said ‘no intention’.


The SPEAKER —The member for Mackellar will sit down! A point of order is a point of order not an opportunity to get up and debate. When members leave after question time, I suggest they look at some of the responses in the greens today. When they have the opportunity to read them in the quiet, they might understand what they missed by not listening when there was continual interjection. The Prime Minister has been directly relevant to the question. If, in fact, the answer has continued on because some people could not sit quietly, including those who wish to jump up at the drop of a hat on points of order, that is not my problem. The Prime Minister has the call and I assume that she will be in conclusion.


Ms GILLARD —Thank you, Mr Speaker, I actually had one more sentence to say when the member raised a point of order. My final sentence is: should the member be approached by any constituent who has any concerns then he should look them in the eye and say, ‘There is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.’ Any other answer would not be a truthful answer.