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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5261


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (20:01): In relation to the minister's previous answer, I asked whether he could confirm the evidence given by ASIO and the AFP about the dates the department was provided advice. I note that he has chosen not to confirm those, so I refer to the public evidence that was provided by ASIO that they advised DIAC on 30 August that this individual was a convicted terrorist and on 14 November the AFP advised DIAC that they had a convicted terrorist at the Inverbrackie facility. I note also that the minister said it was on 17 April that he became aware of and was briefed on this matter. I also note that it was on 17 April that the individual was transferred to high security in Villawood.

In that context I would like to know from the minister whether he is satisfied that months and months passed, under him and the previous minister as well, without their being advised that such a significant character, a convicted terrorist, was being held in this low-security facility in Inverbrackie. Neither minister had been advised by the department of his presence in that place. Does the minister think that is satisfactory? I ask that question with this background: the minister would be aware that if there is a critical incident in an immigration detention centre anywhere in the country, his officers advise. It happens as part of the normal process. That is the evidence provided by former secretary Metcalfe to the detention inquiry. It is a normal process for this minister to be advised of critical incidents that take place in a detention centre, but when you have a convicted terrorist staying in a low-security facility he is not told and his predecessor was not told.

One of the very few occasions I had some sympathy for the minister's predecessor was the day he sat before Ray Hadley in a Sydney studio and had to learn that there was an improvised explosive device in a detention centre. That was brought to his attention on air, and he had not been advised by the department. I would have to wonder whether there was a very light touch applied by the department in terms of the disciplinary action that followed that event. What concerns me, on the minister's behalf, is that there seemed to be a tendency to keep this government in the dark on things of that nature. I ask him whether he is satisfied with that.

The budget assumes 13,200 arrivals in 2013-14. We are expecting around 25,000 this year, and I do not think the minister would dispute those figures on the current rate of arrivals. Over the forward estimates the government has projected a decline in arrivals to around 2,400 per annum in 2015-16 and 2016-17 based on the 10-year average figure. I am interested to know whether the minister can state here that he remains confident about those forecasts and that the budget as currently presented is a reliable statement of the expected expenditure given that arrivals are now occurring at a rate of over 3,000 per month and this budget is based on arrivals of 1,100 per month next year.

I also note the evidence given in Senate estimates by the secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, Mr Tune, who, when asked about the government's budget forecast on stopping the boats, he said: ''If it's necessary to adjust, we will.'

I ask the minister: is he confident that, when it comes to the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the figures that he, along with the Treasurer, has put in this budget in terms of the likely expenditure for next year and out over the forward estimates will survive that scrutiny through the PEFO process? And does he stand by the fact that he still thinks that we will have an average rate of arrivals next year of 1,100 people per month, based on his policies?