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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4215

Asylum Seekers


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister outline to the House how the coalition is delivering strong and consistent border protection policies? Are there any risks to maintaining a strong border in the future?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (15:07): I thank the honourable member for her question. I would like to take the opportunity first to provide an update to the House on the status of the woman brought from Nauru to Australia who was self-immolated—the second person to commit such an act in recent days. The lady remains in a critical condition and efforts, obviously, are being made to meet her medical needs. We can, of course, hope for the best possible outcome, but it is a dire situation. In both recent incidents, the patients have received the utmost care, treatment and consideration, both in Nauru and here in Australia. I want to thank the medical staff at the hospital of Nauru, the IHMS clinic, those who assisted on the scene and the government of Nauru for dealing with what is an extremely distressing situation.

I can also inform the House that the government has strengthened the existing healthcare staff of 52 health professionals on Nauru, which includes 22 mental health staff currently on the island. An additional eight health staff, including four mental health professionals, were deployed last week, and another 12, including mental health staff, are being sent to Nauru this week. This builds on the $11 million the Australian government provided for the medical clinic at the Nauru RPC and the $26½ million that we have provided to upgrade Nauru hospital.

It is of course of grave concern that this person would resort to such an extreme act of self-harm, but these behaviours have intensified in recent times and, as we see, have now turned to extreme acts with terrible consequences. I have previously expressed my frustration and, frankly, anger at some advocates who are speaking and communicating with some within the regional processing centres, encouraging them to resist offers from the government to help them return back to their country of origin or, indeed, to a third country. The government has been absolutely clear. We do not want to see any self-harm. We do not want to see the boats restart, because we know, if they do, the deaths at sea will recommence. Twelve hundred people drowned at sea when Labor lost control of our borders, and we have worked tirelessly since the day we were first elected to make sure that we could keep the people smugglers out of business and close the detention centres.

I am pleased to announce ahead of the budget tonight that we will close 17 detention centres, resulting in 17 detention centres having been opened by Labor and 17 closed by this government. We have reduced the number of children in detention from 2,000 under Labor down to zero. We do not want to see new boat arrivals and we absolutely are determined that we are not going to see men, women and children drowning at sea ever again in this country. That is why this government will remain absolutely resolute to help those people return home from Nauru and from Manus. But our determination to keep the boats stopped, to keep kids out of detention and to stop the drowning at sea is stronger than ever.

Mr Turnbull: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.