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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2041

Asylum Seekers

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:32): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of her statement: 'I have made mistakes over the past 18 months.' Does the Prime Minister include in those mistakes the East Timor processing centre, the Malaysian people swap and a reported failure to consult the former Prime Minister and foreign minister on either of these policies, policies that he described as 'a walk on the policy wild side'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:32): In answer to the member's question, I did make a mistake: I made a mistake in assuming that the opposition would ever be motivated by the national interest. I made that mistake and I am happy to put my hand up to it. I thought that at some point the opposition that had said 'stop the boats' might be prepared to walk into this parliament and vote to give this government and governments in the future the same powers to deal with offshore processing that governments in the past have had. The mistake that I made was believing that somewhere deep down they believe in the national interest.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Honourable members on my left, including the member for Fadden, will listen in silence—as will members on my right.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am being very directly relevant to the question that I was asked.

The SPEAKER: I was not suggesting that the Prime Minister was not; I was just seeking silence so that the response could be heard.

Ms GILLARD: I have learned from that mistake. What I have learned is that there is never a time that the national interest worries the opposition. The only thing that ever worries them is their political interest and the depths to which they will go to pursue their political interests know no bounds. They are prepared to see more boats; they want to see more boats despite the risks to lives. Their pledge to the Australian people is to risk the lives of ADF personnel in pursuit of a policy that they know to be flawed. My mistake was ever believing that they were better than that.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the number of very tragic deaths that have occurred in boats coming to Australia, the suggestion that the opposition welcomes more boats is deeply offensive to me personally and to the opposition and I would ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that offensive remark.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The Prime Minister has finished.