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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3549

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (17:03): I welcome the fact that we have finally arrived at this point. I welcome the fact that a bill that was passed by this House in November last year and had the full support of the coalition all through the process and that sat in the Senate unattended to since February while boats arrived on the mainland, has finally been addressed on the last day of this sitting week. That required the coalition's support in the Senate for the suspension of standing orders for the matter to be dealt with, otherwise it would not be here today and we would have gone through another few weeks before it was actually dealt with.

Mr Brendan O'Connor interjecting

Mr MORRISON: I respond to the minister's interjection by simply saying this: this minister let this bill sit unattended to for absolute months. If it was not for the coalition hounding the government to bring it back into this place, who knows if it would have even come back this month. Last time the government had the opportunity to consider this matter in the Senate they thought it was more important to deal with their gag media laws. As a result, it sat by the wayside. What this has demonstrated to me is that there are many failings of this government when it comes to border protection but the one they are becoming most guilty of now is their lack of any sense of urgency on this matter.

This matter had full bipartisan support and it went nowhere for months and months and months, demonstrating the situation with regard to policy issues. The government likes to make all sorts of claims about the coalition's position on this. There is one outstanding matter, and that relates to the Malaysia people swap. But, as the minister full well knows, not even that matter is in a position where it could be considered by the parliament because he has not proceeded with it at all in terms of the recommendations of the Houston panel to put more effective protections in place. That policy remains red-lighted by the Houston panel. As a result, all the other matters in that report, to my understanding, are being progressed and, finally, this one has been progressed here this afternoon. It would not have been progressed were it not for the coalition's sense of urgency on this matter and forcing the government's hand to get this matter dealt with today.

I welcome the bill coming back into this place. The coalition are happy to accept the amendments, as we did in the Senate. When this bill finally receives royal assent we would hope there would then be a deterrent for people seeking to target the mainland, as they have been doing while this government has again sat on its hands and sought to blame the opposition for its own border failures. The $10 billion blow-out, the record levels of arrivals—more than 2,000 per month—fit squarely and surely on the shoulders of this government's failed border policies. If you want a sense of this government's lack of urgency, then just look at the passage of this bill while it is dragging its feet once again.

That can change at the next election, because the coalition will bring a sense of urgency to this matter that it has been demanding for absolute years. That will be an opportunity for the Australian people to settle this matter once and for all. My hope would be, if we were elected later this year, that never again would a government abolish measures that worked. In this area, this government abolished the measures that worked. The cost and chaos and tragedy that has followed sit fairly and squarely on the shoulders of this government. We are pleased, as we always have been, to support the bill.

Question agreed to.