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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 644

Asylum Seekers

Mr MARLES (Corio) (14:22): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. I refer the minister to his previous answer about the reported tow-back vessel that sank. Were all those on board this asylum seeker boat rescued? Where were those asylum seekers taken and where are they now?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:22): Once again, I have answered this question. I know the opposition would like us to hand over the PIN for Operation Sovereign Borders to the people smugglers but we are not going to do that, because we are not in the business of helping people smugglers. I know those on the other side are seeking to champion their interests because right now, in the Senate—

Mr Burke: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 90, a reflection on members was just made in a very direct fashion by the minister and should be withdrawn.

The SPEAKER: Perhaps you could help the chair by telling me what the reflection was?

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, the minister just referred to certain interests being championed, which is deeply offensive. We understand the subject matter he was talking to. I do not believe it should be incumbent upon us to repeat an imputation in order to have it withdrawn.

The SPEAKER: I am sorry. I was a bit confused by the Manager for Opposition Business. He does not wish to inform me of what the offensive term is but, to assist the House, perhaps the minister may withdraw on this occasion and we will proceed.

Mr MORRISON: I am happy to assist you, Madam Speaker, and withdraw. The point I was seeking to make was that in the Senate at the moment the Greens have moved a motion—and it has been done, I understand, by the real shadow minister for immigration, Senator Hanson-Young—the deputy sits over here—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr MORRISON: I am simply seeking to explain.

Mr Burke: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker—direct relevance.

The SPEAKER: I presume you are asking for the answer to be directly relevant, is that right?

Mr Burke: I would love it to be directly relevant.

The SPEAKER: Well perhaps next time you will say so. I call the honourable minister and ask that he be relevant to the question.

Mr MORRISON: The point I was wishing to make is that those opposite are seeking to ensure that people who arrive in Australia illegally by boat—33,000 who are sitting here today—get the permanent visas that their government promised them. In relation to matters that have been raised by the member, if there are any incidents that require explanation—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and we have had our one point on relevance.

Ms Plibersek: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: if the minister cannot answer the question he should just sit down.

The SPEAKER: The deputy leader is not in order. That is not a point of order. If you wish to couch it in a way that it can be entertained I think you should look at the standing orders a little more closely. I call the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. The deputy leader will sit down.

Mr MORRISON: I know members opposite are anxious about this issue and are sensitive about this issue, as they should be, because they allowed more than 50,000 people to turn up illegally on their watch. As is our practice under Operation Sovereign Borders, as the 'deputy shadow minister for immigration' over there would know, if there are serious incidents that require reporting in between reporting periods then they are reported.