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Monday, 11 May 2015
Page: 2731

Budget


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:16): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. Can the minister inform the Senate of any significant savings in the Immigration portfolio? How has the government achieved these savings?

Senator O'Neill: Another replay.



Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:16): I can assure you, Senator, it is not a replay, but it is very good news for the Australian taxpayer. If it were a replay, I would be telling you about the $2.5 billion this government returned to the Australian taxpayer in the budget as a result of last year's budget and the savings made by Operation Sovereign Borders. If it were a replay, I would be telling you about the $11 billion budget blow-out that you incurred in this portfolio when you were in government. But this is not a replay. This is a new figure for the benefit of all Australians.

Given the ongoing success of Operation Sovereign Borders, we will now provide the Australian taxpayer with savings of more than half a billion dollars in the 2015-16 budget. As I said, that is on top of the already $2.5 billion in savings that we provided to the budget in 2014-15. How has this been possible? When you stop the boats, the people stop coming. That is something that those on the other side just failed to comprehend. In stopping the boats and in stopping those arriving here illegally, the government has now managed to close many of the—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Senator Wright, a point of order?

Senator Wright: Mr President, a point of order: the minister is misleading the chamber; it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia.

The PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order; it is a debating point. Senator Cash.

Senator CASH: Thank you, Mr President. The Greens hate fiscal responsibility, they hate the truth and they hate responsible border protection policy. In terms of closing down detention centres, we have managed to close down 13 detention centres under this government. In terms of the further impact on the budget, logistics and service requirements across the detention network adds a further $112 million in savings. In terms of the reduced requirement for charter flights, it is another $66 million in savings. So, yet again: $2.5 billion last year, half a billion dollars this year. That is what you get when you stop the boats. (Time expired)






Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:19): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the minister advise the Senate of any alternative approaches to the government's border protection policies that have delivered these amazing savings?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:19): Yes, unfortunately, I can. It would appear that the left-wing tail continues to wag the Labor dog. Proof of that is that the Left continue to be in charge of Labor's border protection policies. Most recently we have seen Melissa Parke, the member for Fremantle, warning the current opposition leader, Bill Shorten, not to embrace the coalition's successful turn-back policy on asylum seekers, saying there would be enormous ramifications if the Labor Party reversed its opposition to turn-backs at the ALP's national conference in July.

We know that in relation to temporary protection visas the shadow minister has revealed that he wants to rubber-stamp Labor's plans to abolish temporary protection visas. Those on the other side fail to learn from their mistakes. If you do not embrace turn-backs, if you abolish temporary protection visas, as your stated policies do, we return to the chaos— (Time expired)


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:20): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the minister explain to the Senate why it is important that Australians retain confidence in the integrity of our immigration system?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:20): Just by way of statistics I can do that. Under the former Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments, 50,000 people arrived here illegally by boat. Under the coalition government, one vessel has successfully arrived. Under Labor, in excess of 1,200 people tragically died at sea. Under the coalition, Operation Sovereign Borders has seen deaths at sea stopped. Under Labor, children in detention peaked at 1,992 children in one month alone, July 2013. Under the coalition, as of last Friday, I am advised that there were 120 children in detention on the mainland.

Of course we yet again go to the budget blow-outs. Under those opposite in just 5½ years there was $11 billion in budget blow-outs—versus us with responsible government on this side; we saved the Australian taxpayer $2.5 billion last year and we will save the Australian taxpayer an additional half a billion dollars this year. (Time expired)