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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5495

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (09:52): I also acknowledge Malcolm Fraser's presence. I do not agree with him in relation to this issue, but I do acknowledge a former Prime Minister and fellow Victorian. What I do not need today is a lecture from the Australian Greens in relation to this issue—the crocodile tears of compassion that we have heard again today. Why doesn't Senator Sarah Hanson-Young tell us what is compassionate about 1,000-plus people dying at sea? Why doesn't Sarah Hanson-Young tell us what is compassionate about people languishing in refugee camps in Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere? What Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and the Greens know is that some of those illegal arrivals in this country by boat from Indonesia—some of them—may well be genuine refugees. What Senator Hanson-Young and the Greens know is that every single person in those UNHCR camps is a genuine refugee. What the Greens want to do is to put the rights of those illegal boat arrival people above the rights of those in those UNHCR camps. That is not compassion, and I am sick and tired of the crocodile tears coming from the other side.

Two years ago the Prime Minister of this country made an unequivocal commitment to the people of Australia that there would be no carbon tax under a government that she leads, and straightaway after the election we found out that that was an unmitigated and clear lie on the part of the Prime Minister of this country and the government. But this is just one example of a government and a Prime Minister that simply cannot be trusted. Indeed, if you look at what their policies contain, they are designed only to keep or obtain government. There is no better example of that than in relation to this debate on the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012.

There have been 22,000 illegal arrivals in the last four years, 1,000-plus deaths and a $4.7 billion budget blow-out. The Houston report made it quite clear what options were available to this government. This government had the option of putting in place all three streams of the Howard government solution, which stopped illegal boat arrivals in this country and stopped deaths among those arrivals by boat. Why not introduce the full suite of those measures? Why not, indeed, go the next step in relation to turning back the boats and temporary protection visas?

I will just go through some of the previous comments of the Prime Minister in relation to these issues. Julia Gillard, in a press conference on 3 December 2002, said:

The Navy has turned back four boats to Indonesia. They were in sea-worthy shape and arrived in Indonesia. It has made a very big difference to people-smuggling that that happened … And we think turning boats around that are seaworthy, that can make the return journey, and are in international waters, fits in with that.

That was the Prime Minister, back in December 2002. If you go further and look at what she has said since then, on 6 July 2010 all of a sudden she had changed her mind. She said:

I speak of the claim often made by opposition politicians that they will, and I quote: 'turn the boats back'. This needs to be seen for what it is. It's a shallow slogan. It's nonsense.

How does that equate to her comments back in December 2002? This is a Prime Minister and a government that will stop at nothing.

In the 45 seconds left available to me, I also want to speak about temporary protection visas and what the Prime Minister said about that, again on 3 December 2002:

The proposal in this document, Labor's policy, is that an unauthorised arrival who does have a genuine refugee claim would in the first instance get a short Temporary Protection Visa.

At the same conference she said:

We want a short first-instance Temporary Protection Visa.

This Prime Minister has taken up only one of the three legs of what she should be doing in relation to this issue. She has flip-flopped. She says one thing one day and she says another thing the next day. This Prime Minister cannot be trusted, this government cannot be trusted and this bill must go through immediately. In government we will address those two outstanding and extremely important matters.