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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4797


Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (18:03): Whilst of course the standing orders allow for a wide-ranging debate on the appropriations bill, because we can speak about any public affair, one would have thought that a shadow minister might think that the appropriation bill debate speech was the time that he could unveil what he would actually do. He treated us as if he had been invited on one of those 24/7 TV shows, where the emotive word 'chaos' has to be used and that the government has to have 'lost the plot' in a piece of policy area. But what did he say that he would do if he became the immigration minister?

He has been told—and we know, because of the High Court case—of the need for new legislation. We have legislation before the parliament. He tends to rattle on about the Greens and say that they in some way have the government hostage, but the Greens do not support this particular piece of legislation. The coalition would require the piece of legislation, and therefore it is up to them to support it. The shadow minister says that we can return to the Nauru 'solution'. He does not consider that we have moved on a little bit. Five years on, we have moved on from there, and certainly the landscape has changed.

The success rates of those that arrived on our shores and got shoved into the middle of the Pacific Ocean on Nauru was pretty high, and I wonder, in the business of trade of humans in our region, whether it is a deterrent at all. To think that you can wind back the clock and suddenly the fear in people who approach people smugglers because they are being sent to Nauru will still be there, when the success rate of those that either came to Australia or got to other first-world countries through Nauru has been established—what a nonsense.

The shadow minister also stood at the dispatch box and said, 'Oh, we don't need legislation.' There was no mention of the briefings that have been made available to him by the government, by those that know, by those that have looked at the legislation. The shadow minister at the table, the member for Dickson, is getting a bit squeamish. We might hear some policy from him one day. He has been in his portfolio area and has had responsibility for a long time, and he has always joined the mealy-mouthed people who speak on behalf of the opposition.

Mr Dutton: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I can understand that the member for Scullin feels bruised and damaged because of the treatment meted out to him by this government but this is not relevant to the bill that is being discussed before the House, surely.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs D'Ath ): The member for Cook discussed this issue at length in the debate on the appropriation bills so I intend to give the same amount of latitude to the member for Scullin.

Mr JENKINS: Madam Deputy Speaker, you do not have to give me latitude. It is about time that members in this place read the standing orders. The member for Dickson, who thinks he could rule the place, should read the standing orders. Mate, read the standing orders—76(c):

... the motion for the second reading of the Main Appropriation Bill, and Appropriation or Supply Bills for the ordinary annual services of government, when public affairs may be debated.

There is no such thing in this debate as having to be relevant to the budget, as you should have known. But, no, you are slothful in your development of policy—we never hear it. You are always critical of all actions that go on. And you have got thin skin. All you can do is get up—

Mr Dutton: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is great to see him fired up again, but some of the comments were offensive and unparliamentary and I ask you to ask him to withdraw them.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask the member to withdraw, for the assistance of the chair.

Mr JENKINS: I withdraw. I am sorry that I am surrounded by precious petals.

Mr Dutton: Madam Deputy Speaker, point of order—

Mr JENKINS: I withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Scullin, you have the call.

Mr JENKINS: I was just waiting to check whether the member for Dickson is okay with me returning to the debate because he seems a bit of a precious petal tonight.

One of the things I do understand is that, yes, perceptions about public policy are as important as the detail about public policy and, yes, at the moment that is something that this government has got to work on. But this government has got nothing to be ashamed of. This government is in fact a very good government. In its policy delivery—

Mr Dutton interjecting

Mr JENKINS: The big man scoffs. The one that loves parliament so much that he would deny himself the ability to stay in the parliament, but goes on the 24/7 talk shows on TV—hear the member for Dickson, the great saviour of the Liberal Party, sorry the LNP, whatever that is—and can only sit there scoffing. He will come up with a policy; we will hear it some day. He will think of something, mealy-mouthed. Have a look at the way in which we address dental policy in a concrete way that will probably be more sustainable than was the case with both the previous governments, of both political persuasions—sometimes we all have to admit that perhaps we got it wrong. But I know there was a fair degree of effort put in place when, during the Hawke-Keating years, a public dental scheme was put in place. One of the things that it requires, and we acknowledge it in the provision of a number of health services, is cooperation between public health and private health. But the member for Dickson was of the ilk that decides that he will put words in our mouths that were anti-private provision.

The Labor Party has moved on. The Labor Party knows that it has to move on with the norms of the society, within the time frames. That does not mean that we move away from traditional Labor values. It just means that we have to adapt to different types of delivery systems. So in this budget, at a time when the economic ministers have decided that they will put in place a budget that conforms to the political aspiration we put to the people about the budget going into surplus, we still were able to do something very concrete with regard to dental health policy.

Another thing that I am not ashamed to comment on is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I know that this is again something that the member for Dickson says, in a mealy-mouthed way, is not enough. Well, we can all say that.

Mr Dutton: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am sorry I have to rise to make this point but they are offensive comments again. They are untrue. I ask that you ask the member for Scullin to withdraw what are offensive comments yet again. It is unfortunate that in this rant he has to make comments that are baseless.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you have made your point of order.

Mr JENKINS: Madam Deputy Speaker, on the point of order: this particular member has form. He is just being disruptive.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Dickson has indicated that he takes offence at the references that continue to be made about him. For the benefit and assistance of the chair, I ask that you withdraw.

Mr JENKINS: I withdraw and say it saddens me that in this place, a place where there should be robust debate, we have people displaying a sensitivity that in their behaviour from time to time they do not show.

Mr Dutton: You miss the chair, don't you, Harry? They did you a wrong.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Dickson should be careful.

Mr JENKINS: As I was about to say, hopefully at some stage, because this is about the contest of ideas, we will see shadow ministers actually explain to the Australian people what it is that the coalition are willing to do about the National Disability Insurance Scheme, that they will acknowledge that the efforts in this budget have brought forward the timetable set down by the Productivity Commission and that they will not describe these efforts in this budget as being not of consequence. The federal government has taken on a vexed issue that faces the Federation and that is difficult to solve because it requires the cooperation of state and territory governments. It should be debated in a sensible manner, not in a manner that is simply point-scoring, like the attitude on asylum seeker policy of the previous contributor to this debate. A mother and her two children are taken to the immigration office in Melbourne. They do not know why they are going. They leave the husband, the new stepfather to the children, in the waiting room. They present and then they come back out of the room to tell the husband-stepfather that they are going immediately on a plane to Villawood because the wife has had an adverse ASIO assessment. When the member for Cook is given an opportunity to respond to such a situation, what does he say? 'It's a consequence of people arriving by boat.' There is a bit of a problem on that. For the last three years, or at least the last two years, there has not been a boat out of Sri Lanka because there were other things that happened in asylum seeker policy. Besides the legislation that they should vote upon and support in this place, there is the cooperation with source countries, and one of the successes has been in Sri Lanka strangling the trade in illegal movement of people.

Then again, I should not have been so surprised. The attitude to Indonesia in this regional tackling of asylum seekers is for them to be told, 'Well, we'll tie a rope on the boats and we'll drag 'em back.' There are no visits to Indonesia to discuss this, before they go out using megaphone diplomacy, no recognition that it was the Howard government that commenced a proper dialogue about a regional approach to illegal movement in people—an approach that recognised that you had source countries, countries of transit and target countries. This is just as if, because Australia is a target country, our participation in the development of policy should only be about target countries. I am sorry: that is just not good enough.

This place should be used for, I will admit, robust debate of ideas and policy. But, when I get people that will go upstairs to the gallery, knock on the doors and say: 'Here I am again. I'll be able to make the comment about the chaos and the lost control, but never put a positive idea.' Well, they can continue to do that up in the galleries. I just invite them to use the opportunities that parliament presents to actually be sensible about things, to have the full debates, to decide that they will contribute to the contest of ideas. That is what is important about this House, and that is the way we all should treat it. (Time expired)