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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11024


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (16:20): If the Labor Party concentrated on policy with an outcome rather than policy to wedge the member for Griffith, we might actually get somewhere with this debate. To the member for Wakefield, I would say that our current Prime Minister used to step forward, when she was the opposition immigration spokesperson, and say, 'Another boat arrival, another policy failure.' She played politics all the way through with this. How she enjoyed her moment in the sun. She was the champion, pointing out the obvious flaws and how she had a better way. So we fixed it. We grew a spine and we fixed it—we stopped the boats with a full suite of policies.

The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told all Australians it was push factors, that it was not an economic issue. We would repeal this vile legislation and we would leave the gate open. What could possibly go wrong? So they repealed the legislation and there was rejoicing in the street. 'Sorry, what was that? Boatloads of people coming from Indonesia? Surely it's only opposition scaremongering.' There have been over 25,000 people arrive since this policy was rescinded. Over $5 billion has been thrown out the window because of these poor policies. I want to be on the record saying, if I were sitting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran or Iraq, I would love to come to Australia. I don't blame them for wanting to make the trip. What I do say is that the Australian taxpayer is being treated with contempt by these people and by this government.

We have so many vital issues being ignored by the overworked immigration department, because they have to work on these people who come by boat. I know the term 'queue jumper' is frowned upon by many, but that is what they are. We have people all over the world wanting to settle in this country, and these people, because they have the cash, are forcing the issue in their favour.

What we have seen in this poor policy decision is every hatemonger in the country peddling misinformation and hate via unsigned emails. Every member of the House is subject to them. If this government could get its borders under control, every member of this House would have at least another hour per day to do positive things in our electorates. Instead, we are having to correct the lies passed on as truth that tell people all sorts of vile garbage aimed not to inform but to inflame.

I believe in immigration. I believe in humanitarian refugees being brought to this country and to my city. I believe in that because all of us in this place—apart from my friend and colleague the member for Hasluck—come from immigrants. We have all had ancestors who have come to this country to make a better life. But we have all come through the front door, because we were asked, and we did the right thing. There is a huge difference between someone asking you into their house and someone breaking in through the back door. I saw an episode of Q&A where a young Afghan lady, very well presented and beautifully spoken, was asked what she would say to the people in the line who she pushed back to get to Australia. Her answer was that there was a line to come through the front door, and they saw an open window and jumped through that. The fact that she was never asked a follow-up to explain herself, asked what she would have said to the people from Chad or Somalia on why they had to continue to wait, is beyond me.

What we saw on the streets on the weekend was truly disturbing. I just want to say that the Leader of the Opposition had it right when he said that we do not want people to leave behind their culture or their religion when they come to Australia but that they do have to leave their hatred behind. To the mindless few who went so feral on the weekend, I say: are you happy now? Has that made you feel better? I also ask: what do you think you have achieved with this for your cause? I defend the Muslim religion and its immigrants into this country all the time against the attacks from people who do not want you here, who fear change and think you will try to take over our society. Many of those who believe this are actual immigrants, still with heavy accents.

The ex-chair of my political party's federal campaign last year is a Muslim. He is a good man. I went to a Muslim community get-together recently. There were dentists, engineers, doctors, university lecturers and tradespeople in the gathering. Apart from the men and women sitting on either side of the aisle, it was like any other community gathering. One old man stood up and said that there was no word for 'democracy' in the Koran. The mullah who was there said he was entirely correct—but he added that there was no word for 'chlorine' either, yet you use that to clean your pool. He went on to say that the high ideals of Islam are almost identical to those of Christianity and of every religion on the face of the earth: respect for the individual, treating each other with honesty, being human beings.

I was very pleased to see the Muslim community come out today, united in stepping away from the behaviour of a few on the weekend. This is the first step in many you will have to make to repair the damage that has been done by these idiots. To the idiots and thugs who did this on the weekend, I wish I could use the language of the front bar on you in this House to properly vent how my community feels about you, but I cannot. All I will say is that you have an option to leave, should you wish, because none of you are welcome here anymore.

The difference between asylum seekers and humanitarian immigration is vast. I spoke to my local community regarding immigration. I want to state what I said to them for the record. I believe that with the increase in the humanitarian intake my city can play a major part in helping people integrate into society. But, as with so many of the policies of this government, we do not see any detail as to what is happening on the ground. If we are to increase the intake, we must also have the services there to back that up. We cannot leave it to the volunteers at Townsville's Migrant Resource Centre to pick up the slack. They must be supported. Where is the plan? We cannot expect Aitkenvale State School to simply accept more students with language difficulties without increased support. Where is the plan? We have heard nothing in my city to tell us that there are any plans at all to assist with these challenges. This government is great on announcement and moves on so quickly after it, and blow the detail. It can come a long, long time after, because they are not interested in that. They are interested in the politics of the wedge and keeping the member for Griffith occupied.

The homestay policy, whereby people will pick up $300 per week, is an issue for me as well. I think it is, again, lacking in support. To the people who have signed up, I say: congratulations and good luck. But I am very concerned about this, and I would not be opening my house to them. I said at the time and I say again that I never want to see a story about a slum landlord with 17 people living in his house in poverty while he collects $8,100 of taxpayers' cash each week. With this government's lack of follow-through, that will happen.

We need to fully address the issue. As the member for Cook has said, offshore processing is merely one leg of a stool. It will fall over if you do not have the temporary protection visa—the one that says you can come to this country until the trouble at your home is over, and then you can go home. That stops the boats; that helps, as well as offshore processing. You must turn back the boats. Nothing sends a message through clearer than seeing a boat full of people going back to port—nothing. And we must improve our relationship with Indonesia. We have treated them like second-class citizens since this mob were elected.

Dr Emerson: Turning back the boats will do that!

Mr EWEN JONES: You, the minister at the table, have treated them like second-class citizens since your mob was elected. The only person to show any form of international leadership from a governmental perspective has been President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. We could learn a bit about statesmanship from him, and you could too. The minister, who was at the dispatch box earlier, said the Indonesians will not work with this. I say that if I were spoken to as this government has spoken to the Indonesians I would not deal with you either. Get on a plane, go over and sort it out. Sit down with them and tell them what is going on.

But to the people of Australia I say this, in conclusion. When my great-grandfather came to Australia in 1902 he had to change his religion to get a job. He was a Catholic. To become a civil servant and serve with distinction, which he did—he ended up being the superintendent of Westbrook Boys Home—he had to become an Anglican. So there have always been problems with religion in this country. My father will always tell you that he spent every Christmas from 1936 to 1949 at Westbrook Boys Home, outside Pittsworth—but he was never an inmate.

So we have always had problems with religion in this country, we have always had problems with people mixing. But my great-grandfather did not take to the streets and belt a copper when things did not go his way. My great-grandfather did the right thing. He made the choice and he went about it the right way. He made the changes he had to make—

Mr Champion interjecting

Mr EWEN JONES: You're out of your seat, mate; get back over there if you want to interject. The whole thing about this is that we have lost the case. You guys sit up there and tell us we are playing politics, when all the way through your whole raison d'etre has been aimed at the bloke you should be sitting next to: the member for Griffith. That is all this is about. That is all you people are about and it is all you will ever be about with this thing. Shame on you. You should just get on a plane and go over and speak to them and fix the thing up at the start, which is where it should be fixed.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! I remind the chamber, yet again—and the member for Herbert was guilty of it during his speech—the use of the word 'you' is a reflection on the chair. You are speaking through the chair, not to the chair.