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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 3341


Ms PRICE (Durack) (14:07): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the steps the government is taking to further bolster Australia's robust border protection measures? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:07): I thank the honourable member for her question. This is a very important issue because, as people know, the Australian public has watched this issue for a long period of time and the Australian public wants for their Prime Minister and their government people who have the ability to stare down the threats that we face on the national security front. People want us to have strong and secure borders. They want us to bring people to our country who deserve a new start in life. This government provides a record number each year of places under the Refugee and Humanitarian program and we will continue to do that. But the Australian public will not support that program if we allow the people smugglers to get back into business. The people smugglers in Indonesia, across the rest of South-East Asia and, indeed, across the world have, of course, not gone away.

This Leader of the Opposition at the beginning of this week wanted people to believe that somehow the problem of people smuggling had disappeared, had evaporated and that there was no ongoing problem, that somehow the 14,000 people in Indonesia who are waiting to get onto boats today have mystically disappeared; somehow the tragedy we see in the Mediterranean and the problem of people who are moving through Europe or are coming from Africa have dissolved. This is a Leader of the Opposition who is completely out of step with the Australian people and yet he went the last election saying that he would provide a unity ticket with the coalition and adopt the successful policies that we have been presiding over for the last three years. Those policies have stopped the boats.

It is true that the government this week has introduced legislation which will provide a further strengthening of our borders. It is absolutely apparent to all concerned that this is necessary legislation. This is a problem that is with us now, that we are addressing now and that will not go away yet the only advice offered by the Leader of the Opposition as to why he would not support this bill, which is designed to stare down people smugglers, is that he is worried about people in 40 years' time applying for a tourist visa to come to our country. I do not know what his prediction is—and I do not want this to come as a big shock to the markets or to the Australian people—but there probably will be a Labor government within the next four decades. It will not be good for the economy, it will not be good for unemployment and it certainly will not be good for border protection. But if the Labor Party believes that, at the 20 or 30-year mark, they want to abolish this legislation, they can do it.

But let me make this prediction, Mr Speaker: this Leader of the Opposition, just as he went the last election, will go to the next election asking the Australian public to trust him on border protection. Every day that goes by, the Australian public is reminded again that the people smugglers won Lotto twice with Rudd and Gillard, but they have struck the jackpot the third time around with this Leader of the Opposition, who is the weakest Labor leader— (Time expired)