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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6466

Mr NEUMANN (6:09 PM) —Minister, I want to build on the questions put by the member for Murray relating to people smuggling. The member for Murray and I were both in South-East Asia, in Singapore and Indonesia, at the end of last year having discussions with the Australian Federal Police, who work diligently and effectively, particularly with the authorities in Indonesia, to tackle the problem of people-smuggling. The questions I have relate to discussions I had with a number of constituents at many of the mobile offices I run around the electorate of Blair. I am thinking of one particular fellow who came to see me at Boonah, a small country town in the Fassifern Valley. He came to talk about border protection and people-smuggling. These issues relate well because, as I have said a number of times in the past, Pauline Hanson was my federal member and now I am hers. A number of people who voted for her some years ago still hold dear to her ideas. People-smuggling is a problem which concerns people in my constituency. It is right that the government should make it a top priority when it comes to challenges.

I am also interested in further and better particulars. Minister, you answered the questions put by the member for Murray about dollars and cents going towards a number of programs. I commend the government for the $654 million dedicated to agencies charged with the important task of detecting and apprehending illegal vessels in our waters. Are you able to expand on how that investment will enhance Australia’s strategy to combat people-smuggling, which the Prime Minister said is evil? I think people-smuggling is awful, it is criminal and it exploits people. Also, I am very interested in the border protection committee of cabinet which seems to have been created, which will be supported by a border protection task force. I understand that will also help the government in its response to the threat of people-smuggling. I am interested in what decisive and strong steps the government is taking and how committed we are to this challenge. I am sure the constituents in my electorate are very interested in a response from the government.