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Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Page: 2084


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:25): To paraphrase the now Prime Minister: another 224 boats, another 224 policy failures. When Ms Gillard was the shadow minister for immigration, not often did she have to come up with that line 'Another boat, another policy failure'. Regrettably, there have been 83 boats since she became Prime Minister on 24 June and 69 since the election of last year when Labor reversed what was a successful policy of the last coalition government, handed to them on a plate and rejected. That equates since 2008 to no less than 11,246 asylum seekers who have arrived on these shores. What we see yet again today is failure by an incompetent Prime Minister and an incompetent Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in this latest effort—that is, to try and strike a deal with Malaysia.

It was in March of this year that the asylum seekers rioted on Christmas Island. What was the reward after the first night of riots for those who led it? They in fact got their wish and they were air-transported to Darwin on the mainland. So what happened the next night on Christmas Island? The riots naturally extended and expanded to where others in detention, staff and people on the island were at risk. We now move forward to April this year, a continuing policy of a failed incompetent minister, to Villawood. As others have said, we saw not only firefighters, staff and others in Villawood put at risk but the destruction of Australian government property in this effort led by the allowance of an incompetent minister. What action have we seen taken? As spelt out here this afternoon, 11 days it took for the Federal Police to get these people down off the roof of that detention centre. Australians are heartily sick and tired.

We now see the latest knee-jerk reaction. Nobody believed that East Timor was going to participate in this so-called regional solution. There has now been a suggestion of Manus Island. That is probably a smart one because it is a return to the Howard governĀ­ment solution. We have just heard Senator Hurley, the previous speaker, making reference to involving and including those in the region. We now know, of course, that Nauru itself is willing to sign up to the UNHCR. We already have the assets available to us in that country. It only requires the Prime Minister and her incompetent minister to swallow their pride, pick up the phone and get on with what worked in the past.

We have seen a billion dollar blowout in the budget for immigration during the current financial year—budgeted at $200 million but will cost over $1 billion. One can only wonder what we are going to see this evening.

I have spent much time in Malaysia. I have even spent a brief time as a guest of the corrective services department in Malaysian detention centres. I can assure you they are not a place you would want to spend more time than is necessary. For those who do not believe that, they need to consult nobody else other than Anwar Ibrahim. But we have also now learnt that the Malaysians quite correctly will reserve for themselves the right to actually determine who of the 800 come to this country. So let us see the scene: the asylum seekers leave their home country, they go through Malaysia—incidentally, they have a passport when they go through Malaysia—they get on a boat, they come down here, they are processed, nobody likes them, so what happens? They go back to Malaysia and guess what happens to the people smugglers: they get to sell a second ticket, because they will leave that detention and once again return to Australia. The merry-go-round created by this incompetent government will only continue. The people smugglers are the ones who probably are smiling the most. Naturally those who do end up coming down on the boats a second time will destroy their identification papers and their passports, which gives us more work to do.

I conclude my comments with the observation that when the Howard government stopped the boats they continued the level of migration by genuine refugees, those who had been waiting for years and continue to wait for years in camps and who are currently being put further to the back of the queue because of these queue jumpers, most of them well-heeled, who are making a mockery of this country and its citizens.

Question agreed to.