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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3503

Asylum Seekers

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:13): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that the budget projects a 90 per cent decline in illegal arrivals by boat over the forward estimates. This is based on a ten-year average that includes five years of the Howard government's policies when there were less than two boats arriving on average per year. How can the Treasurer credibly base his forecast on the coalitions policies that stopped the boats rather than his government's policies that started the boats?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:13): I thank the member for his question. I was asked about our forecast yesterday and provided a detailed answer. I said yesterday that our medium-term forecasts are based on actual arrivals. We take advice from security agencies, we look at the history of the issue and, as we go out further, we look at historical averages. I made the point very clearly yesterday that the government will do everything within its power to stop the people smugglers. But of course there is one roadblock in the way of that: those opposite, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, have opposed key recommendations, that came to us through the Houston inquiry, to do more offshore processing—in particular in Malaysia. That is why I very clearly said yesterday that he is the best friend that people smugglers have ever had, because the opposition of those opposite sent a message to the region, and it was not a very good message at all.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, clearly we found this offensive yesterday. For a government that has allowed the boats to come, to accuse us of being the best friends of people smugglers—

The SPEAKER: No debate is allowed. I have already warned the Manager of Opposition Business. The Treasurer has the call. I will ask him to withdraw.

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:16): Thank you, Speaker. The government will continue to—

The SPEAKER: If the Treasurer could withdraw.

Mr SWAN: I do withdraw. The government will continue to engage in the region to reach arrangements with other countries so we can stem the flow. We do know that there are circumstances elsewhere in the world that are pushing refugees in our direction, not just to us but right around the world as well. We will engage, but what we need is the support of those opposite for the measures that are required to stem the flow of boats. We should not continue to have the fraudulent policy of the Leader of the Opposition, where he pretends that he can do something by tow-backs, back to Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the refugee convention. That is simply fraudulent. It is false from the opposition. We look forward to support the policies which will assist us in stemming the flow.

The SPEAKER: The member for Cook on a supplementary, or seeking to table?

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:16): I have a supplementary question to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his previous answer when he made reference to the Malaysian people swap. Given that more than 800 people arrived illegally by boat in just the first four days of May, how can the government credibly claim that sending just 800 people, the cap, to Malaysia will stop the boats when the number would have been exceeded in just those four days alone?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:16): There is a very simple answer. If you had signed up straight away it might have been a completely different outcome.

The SPEAKER: The member for Cook is seeking an additional supplementary, or to table?