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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2912

National Security

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (14:02): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the government's efforts to counter the ongoing threat of people smuggling? Are there any impediments to keeping Australia's borders secure?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:02): I thank the honourable member for her question. A little over three years ago Australia's borders were porous. The Labor government had utterly failed in its fundamental duty to Australians to keep their nation secure. Despite the pleas from the coalition, the Rudd government and its successor the Gillard government abandoned John Howard's border protection policies and we saw 50,000 unauthorised arrivals on more than 800 boats, we saw over 8,000 children put into immigration detention by Labor governments and we saw, most tragically of all, 1,200 and more deaths at sea—that we know about. When Kevin Rudd came back as Prime Minister for his 100 days, he reopened the offshore facilities on Nauru and Manus. In July 2013 he said that nobody who seeks to come to Australia by boat shall ever be able to settle in Australia. He finally realised his policy had been a failure.

For three years the government has been getting on with the job of cleaning up Labor's mess. Under our Operation Sovereign Borders there has not been a successful boat arrival in more than 800 days. There have been no deaths at sea. Seventeen detention centres have been closed. We have restored security to our borders and restored the integrity in our immigration system, which is the very foundation of the most successful multicultural society in the world and enables us to operate one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world, increasing over the next few years to 18,750 refugees every year—and that is in addition to the 12,000 in the special program from Syria and Iraq.

The threat is by no means over. Complacency is a great enemy and that seems to have beset the Labor Party. During the election, the Leader of the Opposition said he was on a unity ticket with us. Well, is he? We have presented legislation which will do no more than put into law that which both sides of politics have said has been our unity ticket. We call on the Leader of the Opposition to stand up to the Left in his party and support the bill—stand up for our border security and stand up against the people smugglers.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The members for Sydney and McMahon will cease interjecting.