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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 956


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (12:41): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator CASH: The government will not be supporting this motion. I reiterate the words of Lieutenant General Campbell, who, when questioned on the same incident in estimates, said:

It goes to the question of the degree to which an awareness of on-water procedures undermines our capacity to conduct our operations, gives advantage to people smugglers, potentially puts our people's lives in danger and may in certain circumstances undermine bilateral relationships. For those reasons, I think that there is a sound basis for not discussing events that occur on water and to give a brief of releasable information on a weekly basis.

The general continued:

I do note a distinction between commentary that might be offered in the media environment and a statement by an official of government that provides certification of vessel arrival and can very much be used in an authoritative sense by people smugglers to promote their business and indeed to encourage people to get onto boats, some of which are quite unsafe.

If Senator Carr has a genuine interest in breaking the people smugglers model, then I remind him of the offer of a confidential briefing.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.