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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2981


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (15:01): I support this motion for a leave of absence for members—particularly those on the government side, to go and speak to their communities and reflect on the record of failure that this government has imposed upon the people of Australia. It is necessary for them to do that.

This afternoon the Labor caucus will go into the panic room, a room that this government have been operating from for some years, and they will make a decision: are they going to pick the Prime Minister who started the boats or are they going to pick the Prime Minister who cannot stop the boats? That is the choice they have, because whoever is running the business of the Labor Party at the end of today, the people-smugglers will still be in business—because the Labor Party will be in government. That has been the experience of the people-smugglers under this government from day one.

It was Prime Minister Rudd who started the boats. It was Prime Minister Rudd who did what the member for Kingsford Smith told radio host Steve Price all those years ago, on that lounge before the 2007 election: 'You know what? We're going to change it all.' And he was right: this government did change it all. They removed every single brick in the wall of border protection that John Howard built—brick after brick after brick, Prime Minister Rudd removed, followed by Prime Minister Gillard. And what have we seen as a result of that? Cost, chaos and tragedy.

That is why I support this motion for leave of absence: because members on that side of the House should go away and reflect on the consequences of the decisions that Prime Minister Rudd and Prime Minister Gillard together imposed upon this country and on our borders. It has been said today that if you can't govern yourself, you can't govern the country. Well, if you can't govern your borders, you can't govern the country either—and that is what this government is guilty of.

This government have changed it all. It was Prime Minister Rudd who abolished the Pacific Solution. It was Prime Minister Rudd who said, before the 2007 election, he was going to turn boats back. He abolished that policy when he came into government. It was Prime Minister Rudd who got rid of temporary protection visas, and since that happened there have been 34,373 people illegally turn up on 588 boats. But Prime Minister Gillard exceeded the performance of Prime Minister Rudd in this regard because, since she became Prime Minister, there have been 449 boats and 27,821 people. And during that time detention centres have burnt down, people have broken out and people have been just let out under this government and their failures on border protection, which those members opposite can go and reflect on when they are given this leave of absence.

All of these measures—the abolition of the quarantine on appeal to the courts of appeal that was in place under the Howard government; the excision policies, totally abolished by this government; the abolition of mandatory detention, effectively implemented by this government, not because they believed it was the wrong policy, not because they were struck by some noble sense of compassion, but because the detention centres were full and some of them had burnt down so the government decided to just let people out, without any guidelines or protocols or any form of structure to govern how people would live in the community.

I find it amazing that this week the Prime Minister thought it was a good idea that she control the behaviour of the media but she does not think it is a good thing to have protocols in place to control the behaviour of those who would otherwise be in detention.

This is what this government have been doing for 5½ years. It has been a seamless transition from one failed Prime Minister to another failed Prime Minister. And now this government will get together this afternoon will get together in the panic room and decide which failure they will pick. One or the other, the result will be the same: just more failure.

It was this Prime Minister who promised the East Timor solution, which turned into the East Timor farce. It was this Prime Minister who had the Malaysian disaster, in terms of not only how the policy but then how they sought to implement it. It was this Prime Minister, after being encouraged by those on this side of the House for years, was dragged kicking and screaming to restore the Pacific Solution—and, since they have, they have just shown their usual incompetence in how they implement and administer any policy.

Whatever happens today, as members go on their leave, one way or the other, as this motion supports, they will reflect on a period of time in government, as they move forward to a budget and an election, knowing one thing—that is, they cannot campaign on their record. What an indictment. What a contrast to the opportunity the people of Western Australia recently had, where they could re-elect a government on its record and do so in the way that they did, with some enthusiasm, and do so in a way that they could look at a Premier in Western Australia and say, 'You've done a great job—we're going to give you four more years.' This government cannot go to the people on that basis. There are two failed prime ministers—I suspect there could be a third one over there, but they are not putting their hand up, so they will have to return to the first failed one. That is the choice they have in the panic room this afternoon.

There is a better way forward, as the Leader of the National Party said. There is a much better way forward. That involves, on our borders, restoring the measures that worked. It is not rocket science. It just takes resolve. It takes a commitment. It takes policies that you believe in. If you believe in strong border protection then you put in strong border protection policies. If you do not, you resist it, you make excuses for it and then you only implement them if you are dragged kicking and screaming. And that is what the government have done. They do not think they have a problem on the borders; they think they have a political problem, and that is how they have dealt with this issue for the many years that they have been in government. And the Australian people know it.

The Australian people know that, whoever is running this sorry show on the government side of the House by the end of the day, it will still be a sorry show. It will still be an absolute carnival and a circus. The Australian people have grown very tired of watching this circus and they are looking for stable, responsible government—something those on that side of the House have demonstrated, by their own hand, on our borders that they are incapable of delivering.

A coalition government, if elected, will decide, on behalf of the Australian people, who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come. That will be our policy; that will be our resolve. You will never get that from those on that side of the House regardless of who is leading the Labor Party at the end of today.