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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2270

National Security


Mr PASIN (Barker) (14:33): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the importance of a strong and consistent approach to national security and protecting Australia's borders? Minister, are you aware of any alternative approaches?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for his question. The reason that we have been able to secure our borders, the reason that we've been able to get out of detention the 8,000 children that Labor put into detention, the reason that we've been able to close 17 detention centres that Labor opened and the reason that we haven't had deaths at sea, whereas under Labor there were 1,200 deaths at sea, is that we have been able to put in place the policies, we have shown the strength of character and we've had the resolve to maintain a position that has resulted in that humane outcome.

What the people smugglers look for is strength of character and what they look for is consistency of position. We have had consistency of position in staring down people smugglers, as the Howard government did. It was clear to the people smugglers that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard both failed the character test and failed to take the position that should have been adopted—they walked away from it. Speaking of people who are walking away and failing the character test, the Leader of the Opposition walks away whenever this topic is raised because he doesn't like the inconvenience of the facts. The fact is that this Leader of the Opposition fails the character test on a number of fronts. We know that this Leader of the Opposition, for example, said at the time that he stood up for workers, but as it turned out the workers were dudded by this Leader of the Opposition when he was head of the union that was accepting payments from employers, and it turned out that the workers got ripped off. That's the reality.

In terms of the character test again that this Leader of the Opposition fails, we see him standing up in this place criticising the Prime Minister for living at Point Piper, yet we know that on a regular basis he is sipping Cristal in the homes of billionaires around the country and he's got his knees up on private jets flying from one side of the country to the other. We know that, when he's in Queensland, the Leader of the Opposition is accepting hospitality—

Mr Burke: Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. I'm not going to call the Manager of Opposition Business. Even on the wording of the question, he is now straying completely off the topic of it. The minister needs to direct himself to the question. If the minister wants to deal in that subject matter, he needs to be asked a question on it. He hasn't been asked a question on it.

Mr DUTTON: What the Australian public look for is strength of character. On every count this man fails, and the people smugglers know it. The people smugglers know it because they see in him—

The SPEAKER: The minister will pause for a second.

Mr DUTTON: Well this protection racket—

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs on a point of order?

Mr Dreyfus: That should be withdrawn for a start.

The SPEAKER: No. The member for Isaacs?

Mr Dreyfus: I have a point of order under standing order 91(c). This is persistently and wilfully refusing to conform to a standing order. The minister knows it. He should be sat down.

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will not reflect on me in making such a point of order. If he wants to discuss the relevance of that standing order and the practice, I'm happy to do it without wasting everyone else's time. The minister has the call. He'll be relevant to the question.

Mr DUTTON: What the Australian people want in their leader is somebody with strength of character who has the ability to stare down people smugglers. What we know of this man is exactly what we knew of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard: he says one thing to one audience and walks out of the room and says the complete opposite to the next group of people. He cannot maintain a position, because he does not have the strength of character. The fact is that, when it comes to border protection, you need to stare down the threat of people smugglers. People smugglers recognise in this Leader of the Opposition an inherent weakness in his character, which is now known not only to those behind him but also to the Australian people.