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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11226

Asylum Seekers


Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (14:12): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the following statement in today's Financial Review. It reads:

After a decade of policy failure, Gillard needs to reject this nonsense and embrace the proven success of the Howard government strategy: offshore processing at Nauru and Manus Island and the reintroduction of temporary protection visas. As ever in public policy, what matters is what works.

Why does the Prime Minister continue to insist on the Malaysia people-swap deal when even former Labor leaders such as Mark Latham are able to see that it is an inferior policy?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:13): I say to the Leader of the National Party that I agree with him: what matters is what will work. The Leader of the Opposition has sat with the same experts who advised the Howard government—and this cannot be denied, and the Leader of the Opposition has never denied it because he cannot deny it as it is an undeniable truth—and sought from them the best of their expert advice in the same way as this government does, and they have advised him that the Malaysia plan has the best deterrence value. So if, as the Leader of the National Party says—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: the Leader of the Nationals' question was about the Prime Minister's views; yet for some reason she obsessively talks about the Leader of the Opposition, about whom she was not asked. Yesterday and all last week you made it clear that these answers—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will respond in a directly relevant manner to the question.

Ms GILLARD: I was asked about what works, and I am indicating to the Leader of the National Party what is the expert advice we have and the opposition have. So I ask the Leader of the National Party, if he is genuinely interested in what works: why is the opposition repudiating that expert advice? Why aren't they listening in opposition to the same experts that they listened to when in government? Why indeed do they go out and trash that advice and deny its force publicly? They cannot deny they have received it, but certainly through these questions and the things they say publicly they seek to deny the force of that advice? Why do they do that? There is only one answer, and that is that, in this debate, they are actually not at all concerned about what works; it never enters their mind what works. In fact, they want to make sure that the most effective policy this country can have today is denied this government, and they want to do that because they are motivated by their base political instinct.

The Leader of the National Party asked me about opinions in today's newspapers, and I thank him for that, because my eyes have gone to an opinion in today's newspapers, too. Former state Liberal leader Bill Hassell, in the West Australian says:

What seems to be possible now is to "stop the boats", to use the catchcry of Tony Abbott from the last Federal election.

Now the objective is within grasp it seems Mr Abbott and the coalition may stymie it.

That is, they spent all of the last election campaign saying that they stood—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume her seat. To moderate the behaviour of the whole chamber means that everybody has to moderate in every section of question time, and I would invite the Prime Minister to directly relate her material to the question asked.

Mr Pyne: Hear, hear!

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: I was asked about effective policy and what works, and I am drawing the House's attention to a directly relevant statement in today's newspapers. That statement is from Bill Hassell, a former Liberal leader. He says:

The Opposition is baulking. It suggests that the only solution is the one it favours, which is offshore processing in Nauru.

It suggests, apparently in distinction from the Government's legal advice … that the Nauru solution can be achieved within the parameters of the High Court decision on the Malaysian solution.

The article goes on to say how false these views are and then says that the opposition 'should not seek to insist on an outcome which amounts to the implementation of coalition policy,' and:

The national interest demands a solution to the constant flow of boat people.

So I say to the Leader of the National Party that, if he is truly concerned about what works, he will direct members of the National Party to vote with the government and to vote in favour of the government's amendments to the Migration Act so that we can implement the policy that the experts who advise this government and the former government tell us has the maximum likelihood of working. That is what he should do in the national interest.