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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 770


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the findings of the independent review into the Nauru riots?

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:40): I thank the member for Herbert and am pleased to be asked this question about the report that was released on Saturday evening. I notice that I have had no questions from those opposite about the Nauru riots that occurred on their watch. I have not heard any calls for the report to be released any earlier. They seem to want to whitewash the history of the time they were in government. Their border protection record was 50,000-plus arrivals, more than 800 vessels and the tragedy of more than 1,100 deaths.

On one particular night, 19 July, there was a riot on Nauru. When you read the findings in the independent report, which was commissioned by the previous minister a week or so after the event, you find the report outlines what happens when a government is dragged kicking and screaming to implement a policy it does not believe in. That was the record of the previous government when it came to offshore processing. Year after year after year in opposition the coalition said, 'You need to restore offshore processing,' and year after year after year the then government denied it. They said: 'You shouldn't do it; it won't have an outcome; it won't help.' They also said you could not turn back boats and temporary protection visas should not be implemented. They still believe the latter two despite the success of our operations, particularly those at sea. They said that could never work, but clearly it is working because it is now 68 days since there has been a successful people-smuggling venture to this country.

The report says $60 million in damage to taxpayer-funded services and facilities occurred on that evening. It finds that the planning of those centres was poorly conceived by the previous government to the point of failing a duty of care. It says there was hands-off oversight and that the intelligence response failed up the chain, so when intelligence existed there was no ability to respond to it up the chain. It says there was a lack of clarity relating to the powers of police and security officers on that evening. It says there was no pre-emptive exercise of authority undertaken to prevent those sorts of incidents from emerging. It says staffing levels were inadequate to deal with large-scale non-compliant behaviour.

We are now dealing with the results of another very serious incident, and many of the design flaws present on Nauru were present in putting together the facility on Manus Island. When you are dragged kicking and screaming to implement a policy, as the previous government was, then accidents will happen.