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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3130

Border Protection


Mr LEESER (Berowra) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on why it is important to maintain strong border protection? Will the minister explain to the House comparable international experience?


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:20): I thank the member for Berowra for his question. I note his deep interest in this issue. The coalition government inherited the devastating consequences of Labor's massive policy failure on border protection—I would suggest the greatest policy failure in living memory. We have restored integrity and credibility back into our border protection policies. In doing so we have rebuilt confidence in our immigration system, including our capacity to accept a significant number of people on refugee and humanitarian visas. While Labor want to take us back to the chaos on our borders that they inflicted when in government—1,200 deaths at sea, 8,000 children in detention—it is instructive to look at what has been happening in Europe, where borders were opened.

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Shortland.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: In 2015, people-smuggling operations dispatched more than one million people via the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. It is horrific to note that in 2015 over 3,770 deaths occurred at sea. In 2016, to date, people smugglers have dispatched almost 337,000 people by sea into Europe. Even more tragically, over 4,230 people have died at sea. More than 2,200 people were rescued in a single day trying to reach Italy. Ten bodies have been recovered, but many more are believed to have drowned. Over one million people have flooded into Germany since Germany opened its borders in 2015.

The impact of this has been devastating and, as described by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the mass influx of refugees and other migrants entering the continent spells a 'near existential' threat to the politics and fabric of life in Europe. Slovenian Prime Minister Cerar said, in a dire prediction, that the continent is at a tipping point and that a 'conflict' is inevitable if another wave of migrants makes their way through Europe. But the German interior ministry said today:

The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place … and remove the basis for people-smuggling organisations.

The Austrian foreign minister said that the principles of the Australian model can be applied to Europe. So I say to Labor: back the coalition on border protection and save lives. (Time expired)

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Shortland is now warned.