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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8106

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (22:21): I want to speak on issues relating to the carbon tax in my electorate. But, before doing so, I will deal with the comments of the member for Isaacs today. He made the egregious, false, abusive statement that members of the opposition—in particular, the Leader of the Opposition—wanted drownings to occur. This is probably one of the most offensive statements made in this parliament in over 100 years. It is a statement accusing a member of parliament of wanting deaths to occur. I have looked at the record this evening of the language of the member for Isaacs. He called for the dismantling of the Pacific solution. He called it offensive. He referred to it as something that was improper and inappropriate and said that we would have perfectly safe borders without it. He designed and constructed—along with many others in this House, in the press gallery and in other places—a system that exists today. He is one of the architects of the policy in place today. Of that he should be proud—if he believes it.

Since that moment, something significant has occurred. It is like when you watch somebody travelling, and then you see a cliff. When the Howard government implemented the Pacific solution, the numbers coming to this country dropped almost 100-fold. When the Rudd government, at the urging of the member for Isaacs and others, implemented the taking away of the Pacific solution, there was a 100-fold increase in the flow of arrivals. I and others warned that there would be tragic human consequences. We warned that the policy he celebrated, demanded and argued for—on the record, on the floor of this House—would lead to tragedies. He did not want that; nobody wanted that. But it was the inevitable consequence of a flawed, failed policy which saw a 100-fold increase in the rate of arrivals.

I raise this because not one person in this place wants an outcome where there is tragedy. For the member for Isaacs to say that the Leader of the Opposition wants people to drown is an utter betrayal of everything to do with being a member of parliament.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! The member for Isaacs.

Mr HUNT: He has breached all the ethical standards that he brought to this place. He came with high beliefs. But now he comes into this place and makes a statement accusing somebody of the consequences that flow from the policy he advocated at this very dispatch box. He advocated the change to the coalition's policy, and because of that change we have seen almost 20,000 people arrive in Australia and upwards of 500 tragedies. We warned of tragedies such as these, and he derided and denounced our warnings and said that tragedies would never occur. But they occurred, and they are still occurring. They are occurring because the architecture of the policy which he and others wanted to put in place was fatally flawed. There was no intention, no desire and no will for the tragedies to occur—it would be offensive of us to say that—but they were inevitable. Right now they want to move away from their policy, but they do not have the courage or the gumption to adopt solutions which will work and stop the flow; they want to play a game.

Speaking like this is not my normal style and this is not normally my issue, but the words of the member for Isaacs will be remembered 20 years from now as a low point in parliamentary history.

Mr Dreyfus: And so will the conduct of your leader, which has been a disgrace and will continue to be a disgrace.

Mr HUNT: This change in policy—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Isaacs is warned!

Mr HUNT: is what the member for Isaacs argued for. It is what he demanded, not once or twice or three or four times but at least four times that I have found on the public record. He is on the Hansard demanding the very policy which has been adopted. We have seen a gross breach of the orders of the parliament today, and it is part of a pattern whereby there has been a terrible line of tragedies since the coalition's policy was changed by the ALP. (Time expired)