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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1832

National Security

Mr VASTA (Bonner) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the importance of a strong and consistent approach to border protection? Is the minister aware of any attempts to compromise Australia's borders?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:40): I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge the hard work that he does in his local community. Like every member on this side of the parliament, the member for Bonner believes in having strong, secure borders, particularly in this day and age,

There is an alternative approach, and we saw it under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, where, tragically, 1,200 people drowned at sea, there were 8,000 children put into detention, and 50,000 people came on 800 boats. You would have thought that the Labor Party might have learnt their lesson, but clearly they haven't. We have cleaned up Labor's mess, we have stopped the boats, we have stopped the drownings at sea, we've got those children out of detention and we've closed 17 detention centres. So I think most Australians would be amazed to hear that the Labor Party is proposing to walk away from the successful policies that we've put in place to keep our borders secure.

It should come as no surprise that the shadow minister has been in his role now for 583 days but hasn't had the ability to ask one question on how all of this works. I don't know what the problem is—whether he's not allowed to ask a question or he's embarrassed to ask a question because maybe he knows that the Leader of the Opposition is preparing to trash the policy which has stopped the drownings at sea, stopped the kids going into detention, and stopped the people smugglers being in control of the situation. It's not only the coalition that is saying that Labor will undo the policies and the boats will restart under the government that Mr Shorten may lead after the next election. It is important—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr DUTTON: Well, that's the possibility. It's a tragic possibility, but let's be honest about it: this bloke believes that he's got one foot in the door at the Lodge, and the people smugglers are rubbing their hands together because they know that under a Labor government the boats would restart.

I say it's not only us. Troy Bramston, who has particular insights into the Labor Party, wrote in The Australian last week:

Labor's left faction is pushing to increase taxes … boost union power … and—

listen to this—

abandon support for offshore processing of refugees and boat turn-backs in the lead-up to the party's national conference in July.

He goes on to say:

In July 2015, Labor's national conference only narrowly backed Bill Shorten's position that the party support turning back boats of asylum-seekers to deny them making landfall on the Australian mainland when it was safe to do so.

The highly charged and emotional debate split the left faction and saw frontbencher Anthony Albanese, a leadership challenger to Mr Shorten, break ranks with his leader and vote to oppose turn-backs.

The Labor Party is as divided as it's ever been when it comes to border protection policy. (Time expired)