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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3126

Border Protection


Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaDeputy Nationals Whip) (14:03): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the continuing need for strong border security and the importance of ensuring the people-smuggling trade is shut down?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:03): I thank the honourable member for her question. Over the last few days we have heard disturbing echoes of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. We have obviously heard him on Twitter and on the op-ed pages talking about 'Shortistas' and 'Gillardistas' as well. What we have heard are reflections of the complacency that led Kevin Rudd into the greatest policy failure of his government, when he, with his eyes open, believing that all was well, tore down John Howard's border protection policies with the utterly foreseeable consequence of 50,000 unlawful irregular arrivals and 1,200 deaths at sea of which we know. That is on Labor's record. That should be on Labor's conscience.

It is true that there have been no successful people-smuggling expeditions for over 830 days. It is true that we have closed 17 of the detention centres Labor opened. It is true that there are no children in detention in Australia. That has been the work of the coalition government. What Labor need to recognise is that the complacency they are exhibiting today is exactly what led Rudd into his mistakes some years ago.

During the election, the Leader of the Opposition said he was on a unity ticket with us in terms of border protection policies. We call on him to maintain that. The bill that has been submitted to the House today is one which will say unequivocally no more than that which was Kevin Rudd's revived policy in 2013, the unity ticket, and send a clear message to the people smugglers: 'If you seek to bring people to Australia by boat, they will not be able to come here; you will fail.' We need more than ever to send that unequivocal signal. We are getting people off Nauru and Manus. They are going home. We are seeking to find resettlement options for them. We are working overtime on that but, as we do that, as we seek to prioritise the women and children and the families on Nauru, we need to send the clearest signal possible to the people smugglers. It is vitally important that the government and the opposition stand as one on this, and we call on Labor to recognise the tragic failure that they made in government and not repeat it now in opposition.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the Leader of the Opposition, I again caution members about interjecting. We have already had one warning. I say to the members for McEwen and Barker that they will not interject in an argument across the chamber or they will both be out as a job lot.