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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1398

Asylum Seekers

Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (14:06): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister inform the House of the problems that were faced when temporary protection visas were removed in 2008? What lessons can the government learn from this change, and why is it so important for temporary protection visas to be re-introduced?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:06): I thank the member for his question and his interest in this issue. In August 2008 the former government made the worst decision that it made in government in abolishing temporary protection visas. And last night Labor and the Greens did it again. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result, and those opposite might wish to take that counsel.

The previous government, when they abolished temporary protection visas, gave the people smugglers a product to sell, and that product was permanent residence in Australia. Last night in the Senate they teamed up with the real opposition—the Greens, the ones who are directing the opposition in the Greens—and they decided that they were going to seal the deal, that they wanted to honour the deal that people smugglers had made. People smugglers had made promises to the 33,000 people who are here—the 33,000 people who arrived under their watch—and they wanted to seal the deal with a promise of permanent residency.

The result of that decision, as the member has asked about, was chaos, cost and tragedy. Over 50,000 people arrived—more than 8,300 children—after they abolished temporary protection visas, at a cost blow-out of $11.6 billion. The results were catastrophic. The lesson is that you have to stand for what you believe in when it comes to border protection, and no self-respecting government would ever honour the promise of a people smuggler, but that is what the opposition did last night in the Senate with the Greens.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. That is terrible reflection on the Howard government for transferring people to permanent visas.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat. I would remind the Manager of Opposition Business that we do not have frivolous points of order. I call the minister.

Mr MORRISON: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know the Manager of Opposition Business is very sensitive on this point as he has the worst record of any former immigration minister on illegal arrivals to Australia by boat. That is quite an achievement, because all the worst immigration ministers are still sitting on that side of the House. I will give them some advice in terms of the lessons—and it does not come from me; the advice comes from none other than former Senator Bob Carr, who said this: 'Not a bit of daylight should there be between the ALP and Tony Abbott on irregular migration.'

I have some advice for those opposite. This is the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. This is what he looks like. This is the one you should be following because he has the strongest border protection measures that this country has ever seen. This is the Leader of the Greens. This is not the person you should be following.

The SPEAKER: The minister will desist from using props.

Mr MORRISON: This is the Prime Minister you should be following. The opposition should note that. Last night the Greens and Labor teamed up to repeat their failed history once again, but the government will not bow to people smugglers. We will not honour their promise.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the Leader of the Opposition, I would remind the House that we do not use props. I called the Leader of the Opposition.