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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2915

National Security


Mr IRONS (Swan) (14:16): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on steps the government is taking to further strengthen Australia's border protection policies? Is the minister aware of a less successful approach?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:16): I thank the honourable member for his question. He sits on the backbench committee and chairs that important committee, working with me and the assistant minister in making sure that we do whatever possible to keep our borders secure. If we do not keep our borders secure, we cannot keep our country safe.

In 2007 in the run up to that election, Mr Rudd, that then opposition leader, wanted to pretend to Australians that Labor was united—essentially in a unity ticket—with the then Howard government in the policies they would preside over if they won the 2007 election to make sure that the boats remain stopped. The rest, of course, is well known and well documented. As the Prime Minister pointed out before, when the Howard government left office in 2007, there were four people in detention and that included no children. Sadly, 1200 people lost their lives at sea—at least 1200 people—and people opposite, including the former shadow minister in this space, made a very impassioned speech at last year's Labor conference apologising on behalf of the Labor Party for that policy failing. Thousands of children went into detention at the same time and Labor opened up 17 detention centres.

Since we have been in government, we have been able to preside over success. We have re-implemented the policies that worked for the Howard government and we are in the process of cleaning up Labor's mess. As the Prime Minister points out, we are at the same time stopping the boats and stopping the deaths at sea, closing the detention centres and getting the children out of detention. We are also able to bring in a record number of people through the Refugee and Humanitarian program. But Labor is making the same mistake now under this Leader of the Opposition that they made under Kevin Rudd's time as leader of the Labor Party—that is, they want to believe that this problem has gone away.

All Australians recognise this reality because they see the deaths at sea in the Mediterranean; they see what is happening in Europe and in Africa. They know that there are 14,000 people waiting in Indonesia to get onto boats tomorrow, and that is why this government is absolutely determined to do everything that we can to stop those people getting onto boats. We are going to introduce legislation and we are going to demand the support of the Labor Party because we want to send a clear and consistent message to people smugglers. That is something that was not possible when Kevin Rudd lost control of our borders and those people drowned, but it is possible now because this government has worked hard; we have stopped boats; we do want to get people off Manus and Nauru but we want to do it in a way—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs is warned.

Mr DUTTON: that does not recreate new boat arrivals and new people filling those vacancies. The problem for Labor at the moment is that there are at least 26—those who heckle and scream out in this debate right now—who are opposed to Mr Shorten and are part of the reason that he cannot lead a united Labor Party. (Time expired)

Dr Aly interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Cowan is also warned.