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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7829


Mr HILL (Bruce) (10:48): I'm wearing black in mourning for the Prime Minister, because it's been 3,184 days since the Liberal Party last dumped him as leader but I think he's about to get his wish to not lead a party that doesn't believe in climate change. I can say to the House: the prospect of Prime Minister Dutton terrifies my community. It's going from bad to worse. He is reviled not just for his jibes but also for his appalling performance as minister. I will use the example that Labor will not let up on: delays in citizenship applications. There were media reports nationally last week of a shocking blowout, worse than imagined—an 800 per cent blowout over five years from 27,000 people in the queue to 243,000 permanent residents with their paperwork lost in the black hole of the department. The Liberal Party's response? Make this one Prime Minister.

More concerningly, there is evidence emerging that the queue is being manipulated—there are mysterious changes in approval rates for certain groups. For example, in the last five years there was a 72 per cent average approval rate, as compared to applications, for permanent residents of Australia who were born in China. But, in the last period, less than 20 per cent had been approved. This sudden, mysterious and enormous drop raises questions which the minister must explain. He dodged them on ABC radio last week, claiming, 'Everything has slowed down.' That fact is, in the same period, approvals for people from India rose while approvals for people from China dropped off the cliff. The Liberal Party is happy to take people's money at election time—to line them up against the wall and take their money—and let them live here, but they're not good enough to become Australians.

What possible reasons are there? We hear three. In a train wreck of an interview last Thursday, the minister said that it's 'national security'. Sure, ID checks are important, but there are nearly 250,000 permanent residents living, working and loving here. If they are so dangerous, why are they here? Why have they been here for four to 10 years? You can't just say 'national security' as if it's a Harry Potter style spell. It doesn't prove any point. You actually have to explain yourself.

Then we hear that there's spike in applications and it's all Labor's fault. That's simply not true. There's been a steady, normal increase on average over five years of 7.2 per cent each year. The only spike is in the queue of people in the black hole of the department. In the last two years, we've seen a 428 per cent increase in people waiting in the queue, but a 21 per cent increase in the number of applications lodged. And then we hear that it is all Labor's fault because of boat people. The minister said on ABC radio that there is a:

… big backlog of the boat arrivals from three or four years ago, which are now coming through …

What? Is he telling Australia there were boats arriving three to four years ago, when the Liberal Party was in government? If so, that's news. In fact, over the last four years, the number of applications for citizenship lodged by humanitarian arrivals has dropped 21 per cent. In the last financial year, only 3.9 per cent of conferrals approved were for humanitarian arrivals. The scandal is growing, and the minister must explain himself.