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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8496

Asylum Seekers


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:35): My question is to the Prime Minister and I thank the Prime Minister for finally adopting one element in the coalition's border protection policy—namely, offshore processing in Nauru. When will the Prime Minister adopt the other two elements in our policy—namely, turning boats around, where it is safe to do so, and the temporary protection visas that are also necessary if we are finally to stop the boats?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:35): As to the Leader of the Opposition's question, the government has endorsed in principle the recommendations of this report here, a report put together by three very eminent Australians—Angus Houston, a former Chief of the Defence Force; Michael L'Estrange, a foreign policy expert; and Paris Aristotle, an expert in refugee and asylum seeker issues. It is this that has guided the government and I want to take this opportunity to thank those three eminent Australians for their work. Yesterday of course we saw people, out on the politics, claiming what the scoreboard was out of this report. The truth is that for every political party in this parliament, including the government and including the opposition, aspects of this report endorse parts of their policy and aspects of this report reject parts of their policy. That is the truth of this report. I say it frankly about the things that the government has advocated. It is also true about the things that the opposition has advocated.

That is the conclusion of Angus Houston's panel and its work. I think it is incumbent upon us now to put aside those political scoreboards and that point-making, to put aside the shouting and the rhetoric that has characterised this debate, and to actually get on with the job of enacting the recommendations of this report. So the government will later today introduce amendments to the legislation already on the Notice Paper, the government's bill, to amend asylum seeker and refugee law. We have had this morning good faith discussions—

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Prime Minister was asked not just about offshore processing but also about the other two legs of the coalition policy stool, which are turning back the boats where it is safe to do so and also temporary protection visas.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is answering the question and has the call.

Ms GILLARD: The government later today will seek to introduce amendments that will enable us to commence processing on Nauru and on PNG in the form recommended in this report. There have been good faith discussions between the government and the opposition about these amendments today and I welcome that. It is time to get this done. That is what the Australian nation wants to see.

On the Leader of the Opposition's question, he would be well aware that this report does not endorse temporary protection visas, that this report says it is not possible to turn boats back in current circumstances. Consequently, because those policies have been rejected by this report, they will not be enacted by the government. We will be guided by this report. We have in principle endorsed each and every recommendation in it and we are determined to get on with the job.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Prime Minister should be aware of the appropriate use of props. The member for Greenway.