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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12501


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:54): I second the motion. It is imperative that this matter be debated and brought on so that the government can test the confidence of this House on its policies on border protection. That is what is necessary for the suspension of standing orders in this place, Mr Speaker. This government abolished the proven measures of the previous Liberal government. The proven deterrent of the Howard government was abolished by those on that side of the House and, in doing so, they celebrated its abolition in a fit of sanctimonious self-congratulation, only eclipsed by their introduction of the world's biggest carbon tax into this parliament just a few weeks ago. They replaced a proven solution with a series of policy failures and embarrassments that have resulted in catastrophic failure. For years they derided the impact of their failed policies. They derided the opposition as we warned them time and again of the chaos, the cost and the tragedy that would follow. We implored them to restore the policies they had abolished and they ignored our calls. This government rebirthed the people smugglers' business model and they have sustained it ever since.

We have seen overnight, and sadly on other occasions, the tragic consequences. Another of the tragic consequences of these matters is the failure to restore and uphold the integrity of our refugee and humanitarian program. Under this government's policies, one in five protection visas to people in need are now going to those who have arrived illegally by boat. When we left office the figure was one in 400. That is what has happened under this government. We have seen the offshore processing and the offshore processing policies abolished by this government and those who have sought to apply from offshore have had their visas denied. In fact, 17,000 offshore applications were made last year through the office in Cairo and less than two per cent, at this most critical time, received the grant of a protection visa from this government. Their failures are myriad; the Leader of the Opposition has spelt them out. There is the Oceanic Viking debacle of the former Prime Minister. There is the discriminatory asylum freeze of the former Prime Minister. There is the East Timor farce that was paraded around the region at great embarrassment not only to those who had to endure it in polite conversation, but also to the international reputation of this country. There is the PNG process that went nowhere. And now, of course, there is Malaysia. Malaysia is a failed policy. It is a policy that is unconscionable and is not supported by those on this side of the House, because it is fatally flawed in design and it is fatally bankrupt when it comes to providing protections for those who are processed offshore. The policy has been rejected by both houses of this parliament and the High Court.

They now refuse to test the confidence of that policy again in this House. They refuse to bring this bill into this place and have it tested. As long as they desperately hang on to their policy failures, they know that the chaos will continue. We do offer them another way forward—a way that has been proven, a way that has been established and a way that continues to be ignored by this government. Their impotence in these matters is only compounded by their division, because we know on that side of the House they are hopelessly divided when it comes to this matter. From a former prime minister who does not want to lurch too far to the Right to a current Prime Minister who cannot work out how far to the Right or Left she wants to go on a daily basis, they are racked by division.

We have a minister for immigration who was stranded by his Prime Minister in cabinet. On that issue alone he should have walked away from the role because he no longer enjoyed the confidence of his own Prime Minister. Now he will not test the confidence of this House for the bill he sought to introduce to this parliament. They engage in a blame game—as the Minister for Home Affairs did last night—in the same breath as announcing tragedy. This is a government that has made a mess of this policy beyond proportion; this is a government that has failed the test of trust on border protection on a daily basis. The coalition has earned the trust of the people of Australia on this issue. We are used to fixing up Labor messes; it is what we do best. We are ready to do it, so call an election.