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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 770

Asylum Seekers

Mr MARLES (Corio) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. I refer to the minister's previous answer relating to Australian government responsibility for offshore detention facilities. Yesterday the minister reported to the House that he had not personally spoken with the official on Manus Island in charge of the detention facility since September last year. Why does the minister run from responsibility for the Manus Island detention facility?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:44): I thank the member for his question. I outlined yesterday to this House when I had the personal meeting with the operations manager appointed by the Chief Migration Officer from Papua New Guinea—

Mr Marles: In September.

Mr MORRISON: That was in September, that is right—that is when it was. And on a daily basis my department and agencies work with that operations manager. I know those opposite like to meddle in the operational affairs of their agencies and give them all sorts of directions, but is the opposition seriously suggesting that on a day-to-day basis ministers should direct the operations of those centres?

I have a highly competent secretary, the same secretary that serviced the three ministers previously on that side of the House, and that secretary together with my department works together with the service providers at that centre. One of the things that we did do when we came to government was this: on that visit that I made in September of last year with General Molan it became absolutely crystal clear that the situation was not right on Manus Island—that the security situation on Manus Island was deficient—and, as a result, the first thing I did was to instruct Lieutenant General Campbell to do a force protection assessment review on Manus Island. Over the last five months we have been filling the $1.2-billion black hole of inadequate funding and support for an under-resourced, understaffed, undercapitalised centre that was put in place by the previous government—the previous government that appointed all the service providers and all of the arrangements for those service providers who were on watch that night.

The review into the Manus Island incident will take its course. It will look at all of these matters. It will review all of these matters. It will review the decisions taken by the previous government as well as the decisions taken by this government. In February that included sending 130 additional security officers to Manus Island to deal with the brewing incident. I know this: as terrible as the events of that night last week were, without the actions taken by this government over the last five months to clean up the mess on Manus Island that was left by the previous government—for a policy they were dragged kicking and screaming to implement—if it were not for those actions, the situation would have been far worse.