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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1937

Asylum Seekers

Mr MARLES (Corio) (14:51): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. The government promised that it would protect our borders with the discipline and focus of a targeted military operation. How did 27 asylum seekers, last week, camp for three days on an Australian beach without being noticed? Why did they have to wander down the road to find the minister's targeted operation before the minister's targeted operation found them?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left. The minister has the call.

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will desist.

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:52): The 27 people whom the shadow minister referred to are very lucky to be alive. They could have met a far worse fate, because the warning that is there to people who are thinking of getting on boats on the eve of the monsoon is this: there is no big safety net waiting on the other side. They are very fortunate that they did not encounter a fate far worse than the one that they found.

I note those opposite have sought to draw attention to this matter. They must have collective amnesia about the previous six years. If they want to understand what failure looks like, it looks like this: over 50,000 arrivals; over 1,100 people dead; over 15,000 people who were given permanent visas, denying those who are waiting offshore. That is what failure looks like. That is not a failure this government is going to repeat, because this government is putting in place the measures that have led to a more than 80 per cent reduction in illegal arrivals to Australia by boat since that operation was put in place. Those opposite do not like to hear that figure, particularly the Don Bradman of border failure, the Manager of Opposition Business, because he holds the record for the highest level of illegal arrivals by boat of any immigration minister in our history. He even surpassed the member for Gorton and the member for McMahon. The member for McMahon was a steady performer on failure—I will give him that—but he never was able to meet the heights that the Manager of Opposition Business was able to reach.

Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 104(a) requires that the minister be directly relevant to the question. He has strayed very, very far from the question.

The SPEAKER: I think the question that contained phrases like 'wandering down the road' was not as specific as the member might like to make out. I give the call to the minister.

Mr MORRISON: I go back to the incident which we reported on Thursday evening. I took the opportunity to personally brief the shadow minister that night. I am surprised that, when he would have been of the understanding that nine people were still missing and there was a search operation underway, he chose to go out and make political mileage out of this issue on that morning. But, for those who want to think about what the previous government did, I remember not just the Geraldton incident—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The member for Grayndler, is this a point of order other than standing order 104?

Mr Albanese: It is on irony, Madam Speaker!

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I call the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

Mr MORRISON: I note the interjection from Labor's people's choice for opposition leader over there, but I can tell you what the people did not choose: a continuation of the border failures we saw on the previous government's watch. They hit a high note when, I recall on one occasion, a vessel came into Flying Fish Cove and, instead of doing what this government did, which is have an incident assessment done for something like this, they announced that the vessel had been intercepted—by the wharf!