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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3277


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:59): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that illegal arrivals by boat have increased from two people per month in 2007-08 to more than 2,000 per month this year. How can the Treasurer credibly assume in the budget that the number of arrivals will fall in 2013-14 by almost 40 per cent, compared with the current year, and that the cost of dealing with arrivals will fall by half over the forward estimates when there is no sign of a decline in illegal arrivals by boat under this government?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (15:00): I thank the member for that question, because we have fully accounted in the budget for all of the actual arrivals up to budget. We have also, in the budget, published the methodology for calculating the forecasts in the budget. We do these forecasts by taking advice from security agencies, impacts of future policies and the history of the issue. In the shorter term we take advice on intelligence and expected outcomes of government policy interventions and, of course, in the longer term we move to longer term averages.

I want to make this point: the government have been blocked every step of the way by those opposite when we have sought to put in place the full suite of policies that is required to stop the people smugglers. Those over there are the best friends people smugglers ever had because they have actively blocked the attempts that we have put in place!

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is clearly deeply offensive to describe members of the opposition as the best friends that people smugglers have ever had when we stopped the people smugglers' business trade, and I ask the Treasurer to withdraw.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer has the call, and I ask him to withdraw.

Mr SWAN: Our policies are designed to stop—

The SPEAKER: Treasurer, I have asked you to withdraw.

Mr SWAN: I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Treasurer.

Mr SWAN: Our policies are designed to stop this evil trade and to stop the deaths at sea, but we need a full suite of policies such as the full suite that was recommended to us by the Houston inquiry. Part and parcel of that was the arrangement we came to with Malaysia, and they would not come to the party in this parliament. That has been a very substantial problem. So I made that statement before because they are culpable—very culpable—in terms of the current arrival rate.

The government will do everything within its power to stem the boats—everything we can possibly do—but the one thing it will not do is tell lies to the Australian people, like the Leader of the Opposition about somehow turning boats back to Indonesia. He cannot do that, and he knows it.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer knows he cannot use that word. The Treasurer will withdraw the use of the word 'lies'.

Mr SWAN: I withdraw. The policy that the Leader of the Opposition says he has is not one that is capable of being implemented, and he knows it. So it is a fiction that he puts before the Australian people. This government will do everything in our power to stem the flow of people coming through the people smugglers, including a suite of new policies that we are putting in place to do precisely that, and, when we bring them forward, we would like to have some support from the opposition.