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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1771

Asylum Seekers

Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:36): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the revelation by the former foreign minister that:

… decisions which were taken, in my absence often, and then announced and implemented, often without my knowledge, in the case of various decisions like the Malaysia solution for example, and then off they went only to discover they didn’t work.

Will the Prime Minister now end the denial and end the chaos on our borders that the failure of cabinet to work together has helped to create by unreservedly restoring the proven border protection policies of the coalition that her government abolished?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:37): To the member, who knows a great deal about this: I ask why it is that, if he is genuinely interested in dealing with border security and stopping the boats, as he claims, when the government made a good faith offer to implement the solution that the opposition says was its preferred solution—that is, a detention centre on Nauru—and when the government made a good faith offer to do that in parallel with implementing our arrangement with Malaysia, the opposition instead decided that it would prefer to see more boats? The reason for that is absolutely clear. The opposition has taken a calculated, cynical decision that it is in its political interests to see more boats, no matter what the risks to human lives and safety.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

Mr Pyne: A point of order on relevance, Mr Speaker: I fail to see how smearing the opposition could be directly relevant to the question that she was asked.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will be directly relevant.

Ms GILLARD: I was very directly asked about implementing the policies of the opposition, and I am being very directly relevant to that. We entered into a good faith set of discussions to come to an understanding across this parliament on an issue of importance to the nation.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Herbert will remove himself under the provisions of standing order 94(a).

The member for Herbert then left the chamber.

Ms GILLARD: The opposition walked away because it decided it would rather see more boats and more risks to lives than work with the government towards a solution. I say to the member who asked the question: as he well knows, the stated policy of the opposition now about turning back boats is one that was not implemented by the Howard government in its later years and is one that would put at risk the lives of men and women who work in our Australian Defence Force—people who have committed their lives to serving our nation. It would put their lives at risk. I say to the member who asked the question, and I say it very proudly indeed: we will never join with the opposition in risking the lives of ADF personnel with such a policy. We will never do that. In answer to the member's question: we will never do what you ask. We will never risk those lives in the way that you want to for your cheap politics.