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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13907

National Security


Mr MORTON (Tangney) (14:52): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General update the House on the effect weakened border protections will have on our justice system.


Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General) (14:52): I thank the member for his question. There have been a procession of members opposite who have done their best to describe the changes that they made to border protection laws as no change, or only a codification of the existing practice. It is very sad that the shadow Attorney-General is absent, because perhaps the least impressive effort was from him this morning. He said, 'When it comes to border protection, there is no difference between Labor and Liberal, and that includes offshore processing, but there are many differences in terms of how you might choose to provide offshore processing.' When you think about that statement and you had to narrow it down to what is the major difference between the government's provision of offshore processing and the new Labor provision of offshore processing, you could see that the new Labor provision of offshore processing occurs onshore. With no discretion from the minister, the offshore processing now occurs onshore in Australia, which would seem to be, on this side of the House, rather a significant difference.

And what's very interesting is, having had the argument as to whether or not offshore processing should stay offshore, and having Labor fundamentally change the policy so that offshore processing is now onshore, the debate turned to where should the onshore processing by Labor happen? Where should Labor's offshore onshore processing happen? We suggested, for a variety of reasons, the option of Christmas Island, which will be the option. And how was that option described yesterday by the shadow immigration minister? The member for Blair said the:

…ridiculous decision to open the Christmas Island detention centre is a hysterical and unhinged response from a desperate and dishonest Prime Minister.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left!

Mr PORTER: That is a very interesting description, because the description has changed very considerably in one day. Today we had the Leader of the Opposition saying this:

If the medical treatment is required and it's delivered on Christmas Island and it makes people well, well that's fine.

So, in one day we've gone from 'ridiculous' to 'fine', 'unhinged' to 'fine', 'hysterical' to 'fine'. 'Nyah! That's okay. Let's do it there.'

Labor's offshore-onshore processing has to happen at Christmas Island because they have removed the discretion on the part of the minister to determine who is processed onshore. So people who are charged with serious criminal offences, people for whom we have not had enough time to do the assessment, have to be processed in a secure facility at great expense, which is money that could be spent on better things. (Time expired)