Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11239

Ms JULIE BISHOP (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the announcement last week of arrangements whereby the Indonesian government would accept the 78 asylum seekers on board the Oceanic Viking. Will the Prime Minister inform the House: what are the current arrangements in relation to the 78 asylum seekers; and what has been his involvement, other than the one conversation last week with the President of Indonesia, in establishing these arrangements?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —First of all, I say to the member for Curtin, who has been a most active participant in this debate, that as Prime Minister of Australia I take full responsibility for the immigration policy of Australia and its implementation. I also say that those opposite, I assume, take full responsibility—given they were members of the previous government—led by the member for Berowra, for ‘children overboard’, for kids behind razor wire and for all other such elements of the successful immigration policy on the part of those opposite!

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Mr Turnbull —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the Prime Minister cannot make up for his lack of relevance with abuse.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will respond to the question. Prime Minister.

Mr RUDD —Factually describing that the previous government was responsible for keeping kids behind razor wire, responsible for the Pacific solution and responsible also for the ‘children overboard’ affair are not matters of abuse; they are matters of historical record. I would suggest to those opposite that, as I am responsible in every respect for the immigration policy of Australia and its implementation, I assume that those opposite who sat in the cabinet of the previous government, share responsibility for the actions and decisions of the previous government as well.

Opposition members interjecting—

Dr Stone —Why do the kids in the construction camps have to be there? Why are they there?

The SPEAKER —If the member for Murray has finished speaking to herself—

Government members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Ms Julie Bishop —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked the Prime Minister what the current arrangements were in relation to 78 asylum seekers and I asked what his involvement was in the decisions regarding those arrangements other than the one conversation with the President of Indonesia. The Prime Minister has failed to answer this question as well as—

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Mr RUDD —I was asked what responsibility I had and the answer is that I accept full responsibility for the implementation of government policy on immigration. On the question of the actual physical treatment of asylum seekers in Indonesia, our cooperation extends in three directions: first, with the Indonesian government; secondly, with the UNHCR; and, thirdly, with the IOM, the International Organisation for Migration.

Furthermore, I would say to those opposite that these are not unique cooperative arrangements when it comes to the physical accommodation of any asylum seekers who are in centres within Indonesia both under this government, including prospectively the 78, which are the subject of the honourable member’s question, and who were similarly detained during the period of the previous government’s office. The funding arrangements to support Indonesia bilaterally and to support the international agencies—the UNHCR and the IOM—go back at least to 2005 and involved expenditures by the previous government of several tens of millions of dollars. We have continued that practice and have been completely transparent about it.

The conditions which pertain to the accommodation of individuals within centres in Indonesia are obviously subject to continued collaboration between the UNHCR, the IOM and the Indonesian authorities. We expect our friends in Indonesia to be constructive and fully engage with those discussions with the international agencies. We support them in their efforts, as I assume the previous government supported them in the period when they were in office.