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Thursday, 26 May 2011
Page: 4841

Asylum Seekers

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:14): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her answer in the House earlier this week, when she refused to rule out Malaysia's right of veto over the 800 asylum seekers to be transferred from Australia. Can the Prime Minister now confirm that Malaysia will decide who goes to their country from Australia and the circumstances in which they go, and that any asylum seeker rejected by Malaysia will stay in Australia?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:15): It is no surprise to me, and I suspect no surprise to people on this side of the House, that we are back to the old faithful of asylum seekers today. With so many divisions on that side of the parliament to cover up, they have obviously decided to go back to the thing that they think they can profit from. It is remarkable—they are not prepared to actually engage in the kind of debate that the minister for health has outlined to the House, because that goes to a division; not prepared to engage in debate about climate change, because of their division about it; not prepared to engage in a debate about the economy, because they do not know anything about it.

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked whether asylum seekers rejected by Malaysia would stay in Australia. I ask that the Prime Minister answer that question.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will directly relate her response to the question.

Ms GILLARD: On the question, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows from the statements I have made, including the statement I made with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, we will enter with Malaysia into an innovative agreement to transfer asylum seekers so that we send a very, very strong signal to people-smugglers that they no longer have in their hands the product they wish to sell, which is the prospect that they can get asylum seekers to Australia and have their claims processed here. The arrangement with Malaysia is about that. People who are serious about dealing with the scourge of people-smuggling would understand that, and this continuing attempt by the opposition to distort the facts and raise the apprehension of Australians that somehow another country is going to determine our immigration policy is truly pathetic indeed.