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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3866

Asylum Seekers


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (15:11): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her stated concerns to get tough on people smugglers. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the government has ceased specific additional funding to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for people-smuggling prosecutions and can the Prime Minister confirm whether the director has written a directive to staff that the DPP will be forced to absorb the cost of undertaking the significant number of prosecutions from within their existing appropriation?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (15:12): I thank the member for his question. He might like to note that there was quite a significant arrest of a people smuggler in Sydney today, something that I anticipate will excite some public interest. I am sure the shadow minister, despite his complete negativity—because, like the Leader of the Opposition, what they do is mindless negativity—will want to congratulate the people who have worked hard on that.

Mr Morrison: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: my question was very specific about the matter of funding to the DPP. It was not an invitation for self-congratulation.

The SPEAKER: I would remind the member for Cook that raising a point of order is not an opportunity for him to enter into debate. If the point of order is on direct relevance, the Prime Minister understands the requirement to be directly relevant and she will respond to the question with that in the back of her mind.

Ms GILLARD: I just assumed that all members of the House would want to congratulate the police who have worked on this matter. They were the ones to whom my congratulations were directed. I understand that the member opposite may not join me in that but I am sure that many members of this House would congratulate the police on their work. Can I say in relation to the shadow minister's question that after arrests are made prosecutions have to follow. The Attorney-General's Department is working with the Commonwealth Director of Prosecutions to ensure appropriate resourcing for prosecutions of people smugglers and appropriate follow-up of cases. Clearly the shadow minister's question is directed to a budget measure where we are looking for efficiencies. We are looking for efficiencies across agencies, across the Public Service. I would remind the shadow minister, if he is in any way concerned about these things, that the savings that the Leader of the Opposition presented and then spent on other priorities during the election campaign actually had sharper cuts to public sector activity and presumably very sharp cuts, therefore, to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. We will continue, through the Attorney-General's Department, to work with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure rigorous people-smuggling prosecutions and, of course, the maintenance of effort on prosecutions under all Commonwealth laws.

Mr Pyne: All feathers, no meat!

The SPEAKER: The member for Sturt will withdraw.

Mr Pyne: I withdraw 'all feathers, no meat'.

The SPEAKER: The member for Sturt is warned. The member for Cook on a point of order?

Mr Morrison: A question to you, Mr Speaker. As is often the practice, would you be able to ask the Prime Minister if she could return to the House before the House rises this evening and confirm whether that directive to staff was provided by the DPP?

The SPEAKER: I would advise the member for Cook he might like to make a representation to the Procedures Committee to change procedures and standing orders to allow that. I just add that the invitation to raise a point of order is not an invitation to ask me a question. I take it as a very serious matter that these devices are used to make points, especially given the very charitable way that I dealt with the member for Cook on the additions that he made to his point of order, that if they had been made straight up and down I might have been more sympathetic at the time. Of course, the member for Dickson, who has some expertise in this matter given that I have had to invite him to leave on about eight or nine occasions, is well aware of it. But these are serious matters. If members want me to protect their individual rights, I would hope that they would use those devices that they have in the appropriate manner and sparingly.