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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1795

Asylum Seekers

Ms PRICE (Durack) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. What steps has the government taken to honour its commitment to my constituents in Durack to stop the illegal arrival of people by boat, particularly in relation to the re-establishment of temporary protection visas?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:31): I thank the member for Durack for her ongoing interest in this issue. I know her constituents are very interested in ensuring that we get strong borders back in place in Australia, because the borders we inherited from the previous government were in serious disrepair. She will be pleased to know that the number of people who have arrived illegally by boat since Operation Sovereign Borders began has fallen by more than 80 per cent. That compares with the period after the regional resettlement arrangement, which is nothing more than a hollow shell that we inherited from the previous government—a shell that we have had to deal with with underfunding and lack of capacity. It was not surprising that we inherited such an empty shell because it was a policy—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Corio is warned.

Mr MORRISON: It was a policy introduced under protest by the previous government, because for years and years when they were in government they said offshore processing should not be reintroduced. They actually abolished offshore processing. They said that it would never work and that it was something that we should never reintroduce. Under protest—after being dragged kicking and screaming—it was restored. But it had to be left to this government to do it properly.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley is warned.

Mr MORRISON: Under this government, the quick, rapid exit to Nauru and Manus Island of people who come to Australia directly has been put in place. We are actually putting the substance that is making the difference into that arrangement, because the right policy is now in the right hands and it is getting the right results.

The other thing that we did to get these results when we came to government was to introduce temporary protection visas. When we did that we were honouring the promise that we made to the people of Australia to deny permanent residency to people who came to Australia illegally by boat. This was endorsed by their mandate at the election. Those opposite teamed up with the Greens. They voted to honour the promise of people smugglers to people who had come illegally to Australia by boat. What those opposite did not understand was that you cannot say you are not going to resettle anyone in Australia permanently and then, at the same time, hand out permanent protection visas to people who came illegally to Australia by boat. The previous minister for immigration, the former Manager of Government Business in the Senate, handed out 539 permanent visas to people who arrived illegally by boat. That was 269 on average per month. The member for Gorton handed out 195 per month. That was 977 in total. But none was better than the member for McMahon who had a total of 11,122, with an average—a gold medal performance—of 384 per month. You cannot have policies that work against each other. It was a government that was divided against itself. It was divided on borders, and that was why they were such a sorry show.