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Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Page: 80


Mr RUDD (2:57 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to a report released today by the Commonwealth Ombudsman detailing the wrongful immigration detention of nine children, including Australian citizens, between 2002 and 2005. Prime Minister, how can the government claim to be a supporter of family values when Australian detention centres have been used to lock up Australian kids for up to 282 days? Prime Minister, how did your government allow this to happen?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I reject the proposition that because some people have been apparently imprisoned in error by the processes of a department it means the government is insensitive to family values. That is the equivalent of saying that anybody who suffers any kind of injury while in a state prison, incarcerated under the laws of the state, means that the state government is insensitive to the family values of the prisoner who has been injured. It is a ridiculous proposition.

I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that we put in place a process in relation to the Ombudsman, and it is the Ombudsman’s report which we commissioned from which he is quoting to ask me this question. In a large program dealing with illegal immigration, it is sadly the case that mistakes are made. No administration is perfect; there are mistakes made. This country, over the past few years, has had a problem with illegal immigration, either by people coming here illegally or overstaying their lawful permission to be in this country. It is because we have been willing to uphold the laws of this country and people have been taken into detention that inevitably mistakes have been made. But the alternative offered by the Australian Labor Party at various stages—


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 104. The question is about Aussie kids being locked up. That is what the question is about.


The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister is in order. I call the Prime Minister.


Mr HOWARD —It is significant that over the past few years—despite everything that has been said by the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues opposite—public support for, and belief in, the integrity of the Australian immigration system has risen. There is more support for a higher immigration program now than there was in this community when we came to office in 1996. The reason for that is that they now think there is a fair dinkum, strong immigration policy that is properly administered and properly run by this government.


Ms Owens interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Parramatta is warned!