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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 330

Asylum Seekers

Mr MARLES (Corio) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. I refer to reported statements by the Indonesian search and rescue agency Basarnas concerning the Australian interception of an asylum seeker vessel and subsequent actions and events on or around 7 November. Are these reports accurate?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:19): Last night I issued a statement about that matter. I made it very clear in that statement that the place of rescue, where the passengers were rescued, was closer to Indonesia than it was to Australia. We therefore sought to take those rescued passengers, in accordance with international search and rescue protocols, to the nearest place of safety, which was Indonesia, not Australia. That is the practice we have been following and that is the practice that has proved effective on many occasions.

But these are matters which we continue to work through with the Indonesian government, who are a strong partner. I want to stress how strong a partner they are. The cooperation that we receive from Indonesia and the strong leadership they show, particularly on on-land disruptions in Indonesia, has been extraordinary, because it has been that leadership from Indonesia, working together through our government and through the Bali process, that has meant that we now know that more people are being stopped from coming to Australia under sovereign borders than are arriving. That is why we are having success.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr MORRISON: I know those on the other side are sensitive on this issue, and they should be. They should be very sensitive on this issue, because under that side of the House they ran a taxi service. They ran a water taxi service and they were open for business for that water taxi service. Under that side of the House we measured illegal arrivals by boat in the thousands per month. Under this government, they are measured in the hundreds.

Where these people will be processed is on Nauru and Manus Island, because they are being processed offshore. That was one of the many policies that were put in place by the previous Howard government that were abolished by those on that side of the House along with temporary protection visas. They had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to restore offshore processing, and they restored it under protest. When they restored it, it was underfunded, it was incompetently put together, it did not send the signal and it did not provide the effective implementation that makes the policy work. Any and every measure to deter boat arrivals, regardless of who the author is, will always be more effective in the hands of a coalition government that believes in a border protection policy and a border protection initiative than in the hands of Labor, who are double minded, divided and always deferring to the Greens.