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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2052

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (15:22): Mr Speaker, I second the motion. Standing orders must be suspended because this Prime Minister refuses to bring into this place a debate and a vote on her policy, in this bill, in the same way she refuses to stand before the Australian people and face an election. This is a Prime Minister who has so little confidence in her own policies and in her own minister that she refuses to have a vote on the bill that she boldly said should be voted upon, and that the names for every vote on this bill should be recorded in this place. As the Leader of the Opposition has just said, five months have passed since she said that and there is still no debate or vote in this House.

This is the same bill that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, after the Labor conference in Sydney, said that he would reintroduce. It is not on the Notice Paper; it has not been on the paper; and he has not even asked for it to be put on the paper because this minister, through this bill, does not want to test the confidence of this House in his failures as Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.

There are four key reasons why this government does not want this bill to be debated and why we need to suspend standing orders. The first is that the government is in denial. This is a government that is in denial about its own weak border policies. Almost 16,000 people have arrived on 286 boats since this government abolished the proven measures of the Howard government. Since this Prime Minister was appointed, not elected, 8,500 people have turned up on 131 boats. She said she was going to smash the people smugglers' business model. Well, they have made $80 million on her watch with 8,500 people turning up over the term of her Prime Ministership. What have taxpayers had to foot the bill for while people smugglers on her watch have made $80 million? They have had to foot the bill for blowouts of $3.9 billion. This is a Prime Minister who has put more beds into detention centres than she has put in public hospitals—that is her record. That is why she does not want to come into this place with her failed plan and test that confidence in this House.

Another reason we need to suspend standing orders is that this government do not want to blow apart the fact that they are misleading Australians about the choices before them. In the bill, which could be brought to this House and voted on today, there is the opportunity for the government to choose between two paths. They can choose the proven path of the coalition or they can choose the measures of the Greens. We know what they have done. They would like you to believe they have no choice and they have to walk away from offshore processing. It is not true. They had a choice. They can choose the Greens' path or the proven path of the coalition. There has been a lot of talk about the Prime Minister's numbers but we in this place all know one thing—the Greens have this Prime Minister's number. They have it every single day because that is the path she went down when given the choice. That is why standing orders need to be suspended.

The third point is that Labor lacks support from themselves for this own bill. The Leader of the Opposition has already said that a lot of backbenchers over there are nervous, for a whole range of reasons. There are certainly backbenchers nervous about their support for this bill. We already know that there are members who have spoken out against this bill, but it was the former foreign minister, the resigned Minister for Foreign Affairs, who told us plainly that he was not consulted on the Malaysian people swap and that it did not work. He described the Prime Minister's policy frolics on border protection as 'walking on the policy wild side'. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship was so convinced by the former foreign minister's arguments on this that he decided to vote for him in the caucus. He decided to vote, effectively, against his own Malaysian people swap to try to make the former foreign minister the Prime Minister and see this Malaysian people swap farce put to an end. It is no wonder he will not bring this bill to this House. Why should this House support it when he clearly does not support it either, in the way that he supported the former foreign minister's condemnation of it?

Finally, this government refuses to do this because they are interested in excuses, not answers. It was revealed by the former foreign minister that it was the Prime Minister who said to him about his failed ETS that the best way to handle it was to do nothing, leave it on the table and blame Tony Abbott. That is exactly what she is now doing with this bill. The Prime Minister needs to understand that when it comes to border protection policies, blaming the opposition is not an answer, it is an excuse. The Australian people are sick to death of the excuses of this government. They expect governments to protect their borders. They expect governments to act. The only thing that can bring about a real change in border protection policy in this place is a change of government so that the proven policies of the Howard government can be restored. (Time expired)