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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6722

Asylum Seekers


Ms MARINO (ForrestGovernment Whip) (14:02): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the progress the government has made in stopping the boats? What are the benefits for Australia of strong and secure borders?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:02): I do thank the member for Forrest for her question. I can inform her and other members of the House that the government is making steady progress towards all of its key election goals. This government was elected to scrap the carbon tax, because that will save the households in Australia $550 a year, and legislation is before the Senate. This government was elected to build the infrastructure of the 21st century, because of years of neglect by state Labor governments, and work is soon underway on many of these projects. We were elected to clean up Labor's budget mess, because $1 billion a month in dead money is being wasted just to pay the interest on Labor's budget debt. This budget brings us back close to balance within four years.

Above all else, this government was elected to stop the boats. There were a lot of policy catastrophes that were authored by members opposite, but perhaps the gold medal for incompetence and catastrophic policy failure was their border protection chaos. I can report to the House that—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be no discussion across the chamber.

Mr ABBOTT: today Australia has reached the milestone: six months since the last successful people-smuggling operation to our country. That is six months without a boat.

Mr Marles: Madam Speaker, yesterday—

The SPEAKER: There is no preamble. What is the standing order?

Mr Marles: was 1,000 days since that Prime Minister—

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat.

Mr Marles: teamed up with the Greens on Malaysia—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat and consider himself lucky he was not leaving the chamber. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: Madam Speaker, members on the other side are touchy on this, because in the last six months there has been not a single boat and no illegal arrivals by boat. In the comparable period under the former government there were almost 200 illegal boats and almost 13,000 illegal arrivals by boat. Operation Sovereign Borders is working. The boats are stopping, and that is saving lives. The boats are stopping, and that is saving the budget $2½ billion.

I pay tribute to everyone involved in Operation Sovereign Borders, from the minister and General Campbell to the naval and Customs personnel, the police, the intelligence and the immigration staff, who are making it all work. I also pay tribute to our partner governments in Nauru, PNG, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia, whose cooporation is also making these successful policies possible. Combating the people smugglers is an ongoing effort, but this government will remain vigilant to ensure that our borders are secure and our country is safe.