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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 651

Asylum Seekers


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Firstly, I would like to thank the minister for visiting an Afghan family in Townsville who had spent 24 years in refugee camps before coming to Australia as part of our humanitarian visa program. How are the government's border protection policies supporting the integrity of our humanitarian program?


Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:50): I thank the member for his question. It was indeed a great pleasure to meet with Nazifeh Yousefi and her family. They are an inspirational family, having come here from Iran after applying through our proper process. Her husband has joined her, and her children have studied, they have gone to university, and they have bought their own home in Townsville. They are an inspirational family.

They came the right way. They will be encouraged by the fact that, under the coalition, no longer will an Australian government provide permanent visas that are intended for people like Nazifeh to people who have come illegally by boat. Under our program, we have made the change. We have reset the refugee and humanitarian program to ensure that not one of those visas will go to someone who has come the wrong way.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr MORRISON: Those interjecting opposite make a point and I would like to address it. They talk about their increase in the program to 20,000. Under the coalition's program there are 13,750 visas for the special humanitarian program and the refugee program and that is our program: 13,750. That is the entire program. Those opposite increased it to 20,000. What they did not say is that 7,000 of that 20,000 were going to be permanent protection visas for people who came illegally by boat. So their 20,000 figure was a big con. Not one of the 13,750 protection visas that we will give to deserving cases all around the world will go to someone who has arrived illegally by boat but they wanted to provide 7,000 out of their 20,000.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. Page 553 of the Practice states under the old paradigm that it was irrelevant to compare policies of the opposition with those of the government. That is under the old paradigm. For it to be under the new paradigm a direct answer to the question and for the minister to remain in order and continue his answer, he must come back to answering the question and not make those comparisons. It is the third paragraph of page 553, Madam Speaker.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for his nice reading. But I call the minister and I would point out that when he is asked about the position of people who are coming with permanent visas and the 20,000 versus the 13,750 he is entitled to say, as he has done, that the difference between 13,750 and 20,000 constitutes information that the House would find directly relevant to the question. I call the Leader of the House.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, during your expostulation on the standing orders the member for Isaacs reflected very rudely on your impartiality, which is quite outside the standing orders. If he wishes to make such a claim he should do so by a substantive motion. As a gentleman I hope he would withdraw it, and if not I would ask you to ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Dreyfus: I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: Thank you. I call the minister.

Mr MORRISON: As I was stating, the change we have made—

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a matter that is not relevance.

Mr Burke: I am seeking to understand how a ruling can make relevant material that was irrelevant to the question.

The SPEAKER: You have just said that your point of order is relevance and we have already had one and you are only entitled to one.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, it is with respect to how your ruling is now enforced given that we are dealing with material that you have now said is part of the question which categorically was not.

Ms Plibersek: You have just rewritten the question.

The SPEAKER: The question was one that was pertaining to numbers, as clearly was indicated by the questioner. But I would ask the minister to be relevant to the question as asked.

Mr MORRISON: There could be nothing more relevant in terms of the answer to the member's question that under this government we are not giving permanent visas to people who come the wrong way to Australia. So those who come the right way to Australia can expect the generous spirit and heart of the Australian people in the way we administer this program. What we have changed is we have increased the size of the special humanitarian program which under their government reduced to just 500 people. Under the Howard government it ran at an average of 5,000 a year. There are many victims of the previous government's policies and failures on border protection. We know of the deaths, we know of the cost to the budget, but there are those people who waited in camps like Nazifeh for decades while that government over the last six years handed out protection visas to people who came illegally by boat. And they still want to do it in the Senate—they still want to honour the people smugglers' promise because is that what they believe in.