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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11232

Asylum Seekers


Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (14:38): My question is to the Prime Minister. Nauru provides the government with an immediate offshore-processing option. In the debate they might dispute that—

Government members interjecting

Mr Dreyfus: Not according to the High Court.

The SPEAKER: Stop the clock. I would invite the member for Berowra to ignore the interjections and for learned colleagues of his and mine to study standing order 65 and ask themselves what gives them the right to take the call without being granted it. The parliamentary secretary can consider himself lucky.

Mr RUDDOCK: Nauru provides the government with an immediate offshore-processing option. Prime Minister, it could start now. Prime Minister, it has been shown to work.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Berowra should avoid debate.

Mr RUDDOCK: I set it up and I know that better—

The SPEAKER: The member for Berowra should avoid debate.

Mr RUDDOCK: Prime Minister, why won't you swallow your pride and open up Nauru, as it is the real option? Is the real reason that the government refuses to open Nauru that the government is afraid it might work?

The SPEAKER: I remind the House that, given the question was replete with argument, that sometimes has consequences.










Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:39): To the member's question I say not one fact asserted in it is true. The member who asked the question knows more than many others the obligation for accuracy in this debate. First and foremost, to the assertions in the member's question, it is not true, it is wholly untrue, and it is completely misleading to say to any Australian that Nauru could be immediately opened. It is wholly untrue, completely misleading, and anybody who says that is just trying to mislead and cover up their true intentions. Point No. 1: the High Court case, as we are advised by the Solicitor-General, creates huge legal risk in relation to Nauru. The member shakes his head but he cannot, by shaking his head, wish away the reality of what the Solicitor-General has advised. I say to the member: why is he, in this parliament, and why is the opposition, more generally, trying to mislead and misconstrue that advice because they are?

Secondly, the opposition tries to mislead and misconstrue the expert advice from people who advised the member when he was minister. He every day relied on their advice. He valued their advice and those very same people, exactly the same people in whom the member when he was minister for immigration placed so much trust, are advising this government, and they have provided the same advice to the opposition, that Nauru will not work. Those advisers have told us Nauru will not work.

I say to the member who asked the question: how is he, of all people, going to feel when he walks into this parliament and votes to destroy offshore processing? How is he, of all people, going to feel about that? How is he, of all people, who fought so hard to have executive government in the driver's seat, not the High Court, when it comes to refugee and asylum seeker policy, going to feel about voting to destroy offshore processing and voting to destroy the ability of executive government to determine policy in this area? The member who asked the question served as immigration minister for a very long time. It was a very controversial period in Australia's history.

I say to the member who asked the question he should recognise that he, if the opposition stays on its current course, will come and vote to destroy offshore processing and to destroy the right of executive government to make decisions on refugee and asylum seeker questions. The member who asked the question, more than anybody else in the opposition, should be reflecting on how they will feel when that causes more boats to set sail. How will they feel when more desperate people get into leaky boats, risking their lives because of the way they have voted in this parliament? How will they feel when more people come in greater numbers because they have sent a green light to people smugglers? That is what is under debate in this parliament. No amount of spin, no amount of sloganising and no amount of trying to deny the facts covers that up. The opposition are proposing to vote to deny the right of executive government to have offshore processing for a base political reason. They want to see more boats—full stop. That is it; that is all that is motivating them.