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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 6080


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:13): In commencing my address, I must say that I do have respect for Senator Polley, but she does herself no credit by making outlandish claims in this debate. We have a very serious situation on our hands. We have thousands of people who are paying people smugglers and hopping onto leaky boats to come to Australia in order to gain residency here through what many regard as the back door. What has come to light is that an esti­mated four per cent of the people who undertake this journey die in the process. It has been denied; it has been the unspoken hideous, grotesque part of this entire process until it was let slip in the leaky Labor caucus. We know that this government has been busily saying that it has nothing to do with their processing regime; it is not pull factors. We also know that this government is incredibly discredited on this and any other item. I was horrified when Senator Carr today said the coalition's policies were resp­onsible for people dying. That is simply untrue and, whilst the minister denied saying it, I think Hansard will reflect that his choice of words or judgment was simply appalling. The difficulty is that it is not just the govern­ment in this circumstance. We have an even more insidious threat that is happy to capitalise on this human misery, and that is the party of Greens. The party of Greens do not want to have any offshore processing whatsoever. They want anyone to hop on any boat, whatever they can afford, and float over here and be released into our communi­ty irrespective of the security issues or the dangers.

This is one of the great dangers to our country—the people who sit in the wedge on my left are people who are happy to trade in human misery for their own political advant­age. There are some in the Labor Party who genuinely have an objection to offshore processing from a humanitarian perspective but they have not yet confronted the issue of all of these people dying in the attempt to get here. This government has since tried to cook up a number of solutions: a regional processing centre in East Timor and, the most recent one, the Malaysian solution.

I share their concerns. I do not want people coming to this country in a boat. I do not want them paying people smugglers to get here to claim refugee status. I make that point up-front, but it is simply wrong to tran­sfer them to Malaysia to conditions where they will be subject to punishments or where there is very little security or safety for them. To do it under the guise of some sort of humanitarian issue is simply preposterous.

I know those on that side of the chamber are looking for a political fix and there is a political fix. It is very straightforward: bring back temporary protection visas, speak to the President of Nauru and stop the boats. It is only by stopping the boats that you are going to stop people dying in attempts to come here. It is only by stopping the boats that you will stop the budget catastrophe that you are unleashing on the Australian people by having to build the great monuments to your failure—the detention centres. You probably have not been to some of these detention centres but I can tell you it is a grotesque example of how hopeless the Labor Party has been about managing this issue.

You stand with shame, all of you, because your failures are resulting in more and more people risking this perilous journey and dying in the process. You still refuse to accept that your policies have anything to do with it. If you had a shred of decency and integrity you would pick up the phone to the President of Nauru. You would bring back temporary protection visas.

Honourable senators interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bernardi, address your remarks through the Chair please.

Senator BERNARDI: Mr Deputy President, if they had a shred of decency and integrity they would stop this insidious trade in people. They would stop the swap of people between Malaysia and Australia. We know how they can stop it but they will not, such is the ego, the hubris, that emanates from that Labor caucus. Goodness knows why everything they touch turns to custard. Goodness knows why they are so arrogant in how they approach this. We have got a policy failure; we have an integrity failure. It is costing people's lives and billions of taxpayers' dollars and these people simply do not seem to care. It is a shame; it is a travesty; it is an indictment upon this party.