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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4793

Asylum Seekers


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:54): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that the first public commitment she made as Prime Minister was, 'I understand the Australian people want strong management of our borders and I will provide it.' After 42,000 illegal arrivals on over 700 boats, does she believe that she has delivered on that commitment?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:54): To the Leader of the Opposition's question and quick change of topic: what the government has done and is continuing to do is implement the expert recommendations from the panel overseen by Angus Houston and participated in by Paris Aristotle and Michael L'Estrange. The government is continuing to pursue those recommendations.

Of course, the Leader of the Opposition walked into this parliament and voted for more boats. At the same time, and in accordance with the recommendations of that expert panel, we are working with our neighbours on cooperation against people smuggling. We do work very strongly, for example, with Indonesia on cooperation against people smuggling. What we do not do as we cooperate with Indonesia is verbal them, pretend that an agreement has been reached with them and only then, in an embarrassing move, back away from it—that is, we do not conduct ourselves like the opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Abbott: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was the Prime Minister's commitment to deliver strong management of our borders. I have asked her: does she believe she has delivered on that—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: I am being directly relevant to the question of protecting our borders, directly relevant to the question of regional cooperation and, consequently, directly relevant to how one has to deal with our neighbours with respect to ensure that one can maximise cooperation. What you do not do if you are treating our neighbours with respect is give an interview claiming that you have got a deal with them only, when it gets a bit hot and people go inquiring about that deal, to then, in a shambolic way, back away from it. But that, of course, is exactly the position the opposition has found itself in today. It is in that position because, in this very important area of people smuggling, what it is continuing to do is try and peddle a slogan.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD: They are continuing to try and pretend that they have got some solutions. The Leader of the Opposition well knows that, when he had an opportunity to meet with the President of Indonesia, he did not even raise his so-called 'policy' of turning back boats, because he knew he would be repudiated.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD: Now today the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has embarrassed herself, embarrassed the opposition and embarrassed the nation.