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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14114

National Security


Mr VASTA (Bonner) (14:47): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General provide an update to the House on how weakened border protection will impact upon our justice system?

Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lyons can leave under 94(a).

The member for Lyons then left the chamber.



Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General) (14:48): I thank the member for his question. The government's position has been very clear. It is that Christmas Island is the appropriate response to the laws that Labor passed. There are two essential reasons for that. The first is that, under our government, the combination of policies of temporary protection visas, boat turn-backs and rigorous offshore processing has seen us get our borders under control and close 19 detention centres, with the end effect being that there are only a handful of onshore detention centres. Their capacity is constrained. Secondly, as the Minister for Home Affairs has pointed out, there are very real implications for our onshore justice system in transferring persons onto the mainland where we are aware that the person is charged with or accused of a serious offence or we have reasonable grounds to believe that they are of bad character.

Labor have passed laws that would require the transfer of hundreds of people onshore, removing the minister's discretion. Yet they themselves cannot agree as to where this onshore processing should occur. The opposition leader says Christmas Island is 'fine by me'. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition doesn't appear to share his enthusiasm or support for Christmas Island. The member for Corio says it's silly. So they've had four positions in 48 hours: Christmas Island is unhinged and not supported; it's fine and supported; it's not fine and not supported; and it's not fine, and silly.

We have a clear position that there is only one response. Their position would depend on who is the minister of the day, and that is curious, because what now is revealed is that they are going into a full election without letting the Australian people know who the minister they would have in charge of border protection would actually be. But don't worry, because the Leader of the Opposition assured us they had 'several good people'. Maybe we should have a look at the frontrunner at the moment, which is the member for Blair—and what he said yesterday provides a sobering reality check on what border protection would look like under members opposite. The member for Blair said:

There is no difference between Labor and Liberal …

…   …   …

A Shorten Labor government will deploy the full force of the ring of steel …

That's what he said. Don't worry about border protection; the member for Blair is armed with his ring of steel, his hammer of Thor, his golden lasso! We can all sleep—fitfully—at night because the member for Blair is there! What really is their policy over there?

There have been three things that have kept our borders safe. The first is temporary protection visas. They are opposed to them. The second is offshore processing. They have now made that onshore processing on the instruction of doctors. The third thing is boat turn-backs. What do they really think about boat turn-backs? Here's a vignette from a previous immigration minister opposite. The member for McMahon said:

The evidence is overwhelming that turning back the boats is … neither safe nor viable.

To be fair to the member for Blair, they did workshop 'ring of steel', and his preference was actually 'semicircle of strongness', but that got dropped!