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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13896

National Security


Mr DRUM (MurrayNationals Whip) (14:12): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline to the House how the government's strong and consistent approach to border protection enables increased investment in rural and regional Australia? What is the impact of a weaker approach to border protection for regional Australians?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (14:13): I thank the member for Murray for his question. In the Howard era there were no children in detention centres in Australia. When Kevin Rudd came to office, he promised to be a fiscal conservative. He promised—

Ms Chesters interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bendigo will leave under 94(a). I'm sorry; it's just relentless.

The member for Bendigo then left the chamber.

Mr McCORMACK: No great loss! He also promised to be tough on border security but—do you know what?—he wasn't. He certainly wasn't. Under the former Labor government there were 8,000 children in Australian detention centres. Children do not belong in detention centres. They do not. Children do not belong in detention centres, and 8,000 of them were placed there under the shoddy, pathetic policies put forward by those opposite when they were in government. The Liberals and Nationals have removed every child from Nauru, or there is a clear pathway from Nauru. Labor opened detention centres.

Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lyons is now warned.

Mr McCORMACK: We closed them—19 of them. Labor spent money on children in detention centres; we spend money on children in public schools—record funding. In fact, in all schools in Australia—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left!

Mr McCORMACK: By closing Labor's detention centres, we are saving more than $500 million—half a billion dollars.

In all, Labor's border mismanagement cost the taxpayers of this nation $16 billion. Sixteen billion dollars, member for McEwen. Think about that. What would that be spent on other than the detention centres, other than pathetic border policies? It could be spent on such things as the Victorian rail revival. That has cost $1.75 billion, and it's a game changer for regional Victoria, a game changer for the people of Murray. It's investing in communities throughout regional Victoria, including in Murray, giving them better regional rail services, better options for those commuters in regional Victoria. It's also investing $235 million in the north-east rail line. That investment is big news for the north-east Victorian community. It will enable V/Line to introduce new, faster better trains—VLocity trains capable of speeds of up to 130 kilometres an hour—because that's what we're doing. We're investing in building a better Australia.

Infrastructure is not about detention centres. Infrastructure is about building better, safer roads. That's what we're doing in regional Victoria, right across regional Australia and right across Australia. We are busting through urban congestion problems, making sure that we've got the right measures in place. And we have. When it comes to border security, we certainly have the right measures in place—

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will cease interjecting.

Mr McCORMACK: unlike those opposite. If this man ever becomes Prime Minister, we know what's going to happen: the boats are going to start again, the detention centres will be built again and it will be mayhem once more. (Time expired)