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Government must live within its means: Humanitarian Programme

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A key element of the Coalition’s plan for a stronger economy and a stronger Australia is ensuring that, once again, the federal government lives within its means.

Federal government spending last financial year was almost $100 billion higher than in the last year of the Howard Government.

Thanks to Labor, Australian government net debt is now over $150 billion - the highest level in Australian history.

The Government is also paying almost $20 million a day in interest to service that debt.

Restoring the budget to a position of strength is part of the Coalition’s plan to ease the cost of living pressures on Australian families.

As we have seen from Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, when the Government's budget is out of control, it puts up taxes, it puts up charges and that makes life more difficult for Australia’s forgotten families.

Over the coming months the Coalition will release a series of savings measures that will demonstrate our strong commitment to fixing Labor’s budget mess.

Today we announce the first of those savings measures.

If elected to government, the Coalition will save around $1.3 billion over the forward estimates by not proceeding with the Government’s plan to increase the level of Australia’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 a year to 20,000.

This is a conservative savings estimate, based on the Government’s own figures.1

The Coalition will always support a generous humanitarian programme. However, it should not be expanded while the Government cannot afford to pay for it.

The Government has also made it clear that increasing the size of the humanitarian programme will not stop the boats.


Minister Bowen said yesterday:

“there are some people who argue, look, all you need to do - and this is the Green’s Party position - all you need to do is increase the refugee program to 20,000 or 25,000 and that’ll stop people coming to Australia by boat. Well that’s wrong.” (Radio National, 22 November 2012)

Restoring control to our borders through putting in place the proven Howard policies will also deliver significant savings to the budget. Each boat arrival costs the tax payer more than $12 million.

The Coalition has a proud record of supporting those most in need. Under the Howard Government, the humanitarian intake was expanded to over 13,000 places - making it one of the most generous humanitarian programmes in the world.

Under the Rudd and Gillard Governments, there have been more than 30,000 illegal arrivals. This means that, to a large extent, the management of the humanitarian programme has been outsourced to the people smugglers.

The Australian Government should run Australia’s humanitarian programme, not the people smugglers.

If elected, the Coalition will again re-focus Australia’s refugee and humanitarian programme to give priority to genuine refugees applying offshore.

Under the Coalition a minimum of 11,000 places of the 13,750 places for the Refugee and Humanitarian programme will be reserved for offshore applicants. This will reverse the trend under Labor where the number of places available for offshore refugee and humanitarian entrants fell to 6,718 places in 2011-12.

Julia Gillard has lost control of Australia’s borders and has lost control of Australia’s budget.

The Coalition will once again secure our borders, stop the boats, and restore the Commonwealth budget to a position of strength.

23 November 2012

1. In a joint press conference with the Prime Minister on 23 August 2012, the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, stated that: “...the indications are that increasing the humanitarian program by an additional 6250 places in 2012-13 will cost around $150 million, with a potential cost impact of $1.3 billion over

the forward estimates”. The figure of $1.3 billion is also consistent with figures provided in the 2011-12 Budget for an earlier measure (subsequently rescinded) to increase the humanitarian intake by 1,000 places a year.