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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2504

National Security

Mr HASTIE (Canning) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the importance of a strong and consistent approach to border protection? Is the minister aware of any threats to this approach?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:39): I thank the honourable member for his question. I thank him for the great work he does as chair of the joint committee on intelligence matters, and I acknowledge the members of that committee on both sides, who do incredible work in keeping our country safe. I acknowledge in particular the work that they've done in relation to the recent bill relating to the stand-up of the Home Affairs portfolio.

It is a significant occasion that we celebrate today, and that is that it is 700 days since the last of the 8,000 children that Labor put into detention was released from detention. We are very proud of the fact that we were able to close the 17 detention centres and get the 8,000 children out of detention. We've done it in a way that hasn't allowed the boats to recommence—even though, as we've mentioned on previous occasions, in the course of Operation Sovereign Borders we've turned back some 32 boats. So the important point to remember is that the problem has not gone away. The problem has not gone away in the Mediterranean. It has not gone away across Asia. It has not gone away for us, as our nation is and will always remain a destination for people smugglers. People smugglers take money from innocent men, women and children. They don't care whether those men, women and children go to the bottom of the ocean, as 1,200 people, tragically, did—at least 1,200 people did—one Labor's watch, when Labor lost control of the borders. We have not had a death at sea, and we have been very fortunate that, given the uplift now from Manus and Nauru of people that Labor put onto Manus and Nauru, we have not seen fresh arrivals to fill those vacancies. But is all of that success at risk? Yes, it is—no question about it.

The Leader of the Opposition, as we know, has two faces. He says one thing to one audience, walks out of the room, and says the complete opposite to the next audience that he comes across because he believes that that's what they want to hear. In this area of public policy, one of the most important areas of public policy that we can concentrate on, the Leader of the Opposition looked the Australian people in the eye at the last election and said that he would not unwind the successful policies that have got those kids out of detention, that have stopped those drownings at sea and that have kept the people smugglers at bay. And yet, every day since, this Leader of the Opposition has made announcements in relation to unwinding each aspect of Operation Sovereign Borders. So, if the Australian public are asking themselves why the shadow minister—who just now wakes up—585 days into his term, has not asked a question on this, that's why: the Labor Party don't want to talk about this policy. They've abandoned the temporary protection visa policy, they have said that they will walk away from offshore processing and they don't have the mettle to deal with turning back boats where it's safe to do so. People know that this Leader of the Opposition says whatever it takes— (Time expired)