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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2783

Asylum Seekers


Mr VARVARIS (Barton) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the success of Operation Sovereign Borders over the last 18 months, and what effect the government's policies has had on the insidious people-smuggling trade?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:55): Thank you very much, Member for Barton. Like all people on this side of the House, he is absolutely determined to make sure that we can keep our borders safe and secure.

Today marks the 18-month anniversary of Operation Sovereign Borders, and I would praise the leadership of the Prime Minister, Minister Morrison and all of those people within my department who have contributed to an amazing success story. At the last election, people wanted a government that could secure our borders and they took a decision to toss out Labor and elect this government, because they knew that this Prime Minister had the ability to make the tough decisions to stop the boats.

Bear this figure in mind: over the course of 18 months under Labor, 534 people-smuggling ventures carrying over 35,000 illegal maritime arrivals entered Australia—534 in an 18-month period. Do you know how many have arrived over the course of the last 18 months under the coalition government, under Operation Sovereign Borders? One—one people-smuggling venture has arrived in our country compared to 534.

On the weekend, the deputy leader of the Labor Party said that she would oppose the policy at the core, at the heart, of Operation Sovereign Borders, which has led to this success. What has the Leader of the Opposition done? What leadership has he shown since those words were uttered by the deputy leader? There has not been one word to repudiate the suggestion by the deputy leader of the Labor Party that she would rip the heart out of Operation Sovereign Borders.

Today we are very proud of the success that we have had under Operation Sovereign Borders, and I look back at some of the achievements of Labor ministers when it came to boats, when they were in government. I thought, 'We're celebrating 18 months of success under Operation Sovereign Borders. What would the Labor Party have celebrated?' I look to the member for McMahon's success—he had 24,000 people arrive under his watch; there is not much you could trumpet out of that, but I guess it was not 25,000. If you look to the member for Gorton, he had 12½ thousand people. The member for Watson is my favourite: he had 5½ thousand people but he was only in that position from July to September. He had cause for some celebration, because he got to day 5 and no boats had arrived. There was lots of excitement in his office, as I understand it, because they had drafted a press release. They thought: on the Sunday, on the seventh day, we will issue a release saying, 'We have been able to stop boats for seven days.' Can you imagine their despair when on Saturday, on the sixth day, the first boat arrived under his watch. They could not go six days without a boat arriving. Labor is hopeless when it comes to border protection, and this Leader of the Opposition has no capacity to lead this country when it comes— (Time expired)