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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6106

Mrs MARKUS (3:22 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statement by the Attorney-General that there are now 508 children being detained by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Given this is a near 25-fold increase on the 21 children who were being detained in November 2007 when he was elected, when will he admit that the government’s border protection policies are neither effective nor compassionate?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for her question. I would simply ask her to reflect on one thing, and that is in the period of the previous government there was a policy of putting kids behind razor wire; this government does not put kids behind razor wire—because we have a different set of values. We actually believe in making sure we have got the policy right. If people come to this country and they are judged to have legitimate asylum status, they stay; if they are seen to be illegitimate, they are sent home. That is our policy, but, in terms of how we handle people on the way through, we will do so with dignity and respect—and that does not include putting kids behind razor wire, like the previous government did.