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Thursday, 15 September 2011
Page: 6235


Senator CASH (Western Australia) (15:13): There were two things confirmed in question time today when Minister Carr answered questions from Senator Brandis and me. The first was the complete, total and utter hypocrisy of the Labor Party when they come into this place and condemn the coalition for their policy of turning back the boats, when it is safe.

The second thing that was confirmed by Minister Carr in question time today is that the Labor Party, and in particular the Left Wing of the Labor Party, who like to tell the public that they themselves hold the moral high ground when it comes to asylum seekers, have well and truly vacated that space. If Labor thought that their policy direction was bad under former Prime Minister Rudd, I can only say to them: based on your record to date under Prime Minister Gillard you must really wonder how you got into this mess. The Left of the Labor Party, those who used to say they had that moral high ground when it came to protecting asylum seekers have committed themselves to the Malaysian solution. This is the Malaysian solution that, when we send the 800 people from Australia to Malaysia, the Left of the Labor Party are unable to guarantee that these people will not be flogged when they get to Malaysia. Why can't they do that? Because, despite the protestations of Minister Carr, Prime Minister Gillard and immigration minister Bowen, the Malaysian agreement is not legally enforceable. It is there, in black and white, in the agreement that this government holds up as a binding deal with Malaysia. The only thing that is binding about that deal is that it is not legally enforceable.

What else has the Left of the Labor Party committed these asylum seekers to? They have committed to a policy that will allow this government to send children, who have engaged our protection obligations, to a country where they will not have access to proper education. They have also condemned these people to a policy whereby they will be sent to a country where they will share one—one—UNHCR medical clinic with 94,000 other refugees in Malaysia. I hope those in the Left of the Labor Party are very proud of the policy that their Prime Minister—and remember, the Prime Minister was a former paid-up member of the Left, a former supporter of allegedly humane policies—has signed them up to. That is absolutely reprehensible, but that is what this government wants to do. The left wing members of the Labor Party should be ashamed of themselves. They will never again be able to come into this place and stand up and criticise those on this side of the chamber for not respecting the human rights of asylum seekers.

In relation to the hypocrisy of the minister. The minister had the audacity to come into this chamber and criticise the coalition's tough policies that actually stopped the boats. One of those policies, as we know, was to turn boats around when it was safe to do so. The minister stood up yesterday and today and criticised that policy. When asked whether or not the statement that he had made to the Senate was hypocritical, he was unable to answer. Do you know why? Because they are ashamed. They know that former Prime Minister Rudd committed the Labor Party in November 2007 to a policy to 'turn back seaworthy vessels containing such people on the high seas'. You would turn them back. Why did he say you would turn them back? Because he emphasised that Labor, like the coalition, believed in an orderly immigration system enforced by deterrents. (Time expired)