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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10733

National Security


Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (14:43): I ask the Minister for Home Affairs if he would update the House on the importance of robust border protection measures for Australia? And, secondly, is he aware of any different ideas that would undermine those measures?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs) (14:44): I thank the honourable member for his question. I want to inform the House, and this is based on advice from our Operation Sovereign Borders agency heads, that the threat of people smuggling has certainly not gone away. There are ventures that we know of at the moment that are attempted at being put together in Indonesia and elsewhere. We're worried about activity and intelligence coming out from certain parts of the region. We're seeing what is happening in the Mediterranean, where already something like 2,000 people have drowned at sea this year.

The resolve of the government in relation to keeping our borders secure has not diminished and will not diminish. We know that we had a big mess to clean up when Labor left office. There were 8,000 children that they had put into detention, and 50,000 people had arrived on 800 boats. Tragically, in our own region, 1,200 people drowned at sea. I have not had a drowning at sea since my time in the portfolio. We have got all of the children out of detention in Australia, and we have removed 11,150 people from Manus and Nauru. We're down to 52 children on Nauru. We want to get it to zero, but we have to be sensible about the way that we do it.

I know that the Labor Party has written to the government in the last 24 hours. This is their second position in just two weeks. Like they did when Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard were in charge of the Labor Party, they are in panic mode in relation to border protection policy right now. The letter goes along these lines: 'Labor asks that you consider the following amendments to the legislation: guaranteed acceptance of New Zealand's offer and the removal of all children and their families from Nauru to New Zealand.' Let me say this: there are 13 children on Nauru at the moment who are involved in family groups—they are adults, mostly males within that family unit—that are the subject of adverse security assessments from the United States.

The first question is: is New Zealand going to take those people when the United States has advised that that person, that individual in the family unit, is a risk to national security? Is the Labor Party suggesting that Australia should take those males and bring them to our country? Is that what they are suggesting? Are they suggesting that we should separate the children from the parents, leaving the parents in Nauru but bringing the children here? The government is dealing with this. We are getting children off Manus. We have done all of that. We have got all of the children that Labor put on Manus off Manus. We have got many of the children off Nauru that Labor put on Nauru, but we are not doing it in a way that would see boats restart. If they had a boat arrive tomorrow, it's the policy of the Labor Party that every one of those children would go to Nauru. (Time expired)