Tuesday 30th October 2012
Subjects: Caucus’ decision to support the excision of the mainland, Nauru
MORRISON: I understand that the Labor caucus has met and has agreed to support the government’s proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the Migration zone in what Minister Bowen just described as not even qualifying as a robust discussion. Now this is incredibly surprising because a robust discussion is what took place from the Labor party when a very similar proposal was brought into the Australian parliament by the Howard Government. Just when you think this government’s hypocrisy on the issue of our borders cannot get any lower they exceed all expectations. Let me read out to you what Mr Bowen said about this proposal in this Parliament in 2006. He described it as a “bad bill with no redeeming feature”. He said it was a “stain on our national character”. This is what the Leader of Government business in the House today, described it back then as; “a bill that reduces the parliament and the nation”. This is what the then Shadow Minister for Immigration Tony Burke and now Cabinet Minister described this bill and proposal as being; he said it “undermines our sovereignty, it offends our decency and it mocks the Parliament”. This is what Simon Crean, another cabinet member and a member of the Opposition front bench said back then. He called it “shameful and xenophobic”. But it’s Kate Ellis who takes the cake. She described the proposal that she has supported today as being “lunacy, ludicrous, harsh, indecent, inhumane, unfair and gutless”. Now if there was gutlessness on display today it was on all those members of the Labor caucus who have today endorsed what they were prepared to condemn the Howard Government. Now with such a backflip to follow all the others that have preceded this, the government surely must come clean and say they were wrong to abolish the proven measures of the Howard government that were working when they came to office in 2007. The government also needs to explain to the Opposition and the Parliament the reasons for pursuing this bill. The government currently has more people in detention around the country and I mean in formal detention centres, not just in community detention and alternative places, than at any other time. The inn at Christmas Island is full and as a result the government will now seek to bring a bill into the parliament to ensure they can bring people straight to the mainland on their water taxi service to ensure they can then be moved off to Nauru if that isn’t already full but to ensure that they get the same status as offshore entry persons under the act. So the government needs to be clear here, we have not seen one vessel come directly to the mainland. The only people who have come directly to the mainland have been transferred there by Julia Gillard’s water taxi service and given Christmas Island is full, then I can only assume that the reason the government wants to move on this so quickly this week is to ensure they can transfer people directly to the mainland. That’s the matter that the Minister should explain in a press conference like this?
QUESTION: If everyone in the Coalition party room now behind the plan to designate the whole of Australia or excise it from the Migration zone given in the past the moderates in the past have blocked this in your party, if you’re talking about hypocrisy?
MORRISON: We have not yet seen the bill. I hope to see that bill at some stage and when we see that bill we will take it through our normal procedures as you would expect us to do. That’s what we’ll be doing.
MORRISON: Look, we have our processes and we will be following those processes. I can assure you that it’s not the Coalition that has been the hypocrites on this occasion. There are a number of members on our side of the Parliament who have held consistent views on this issue and I would respect any decision they took to act consistently with their long held principles. The question is why is the Labor caucus acting so against their principles? They demonised this proposal just six years ago. The only thing that has changed now is they’re trying to save their own political necks.
QUESTION: But given we haven’t seen the legislation yet, we haven’t seen how it shapes up against the earlier bills isn’t it too early to stand and condemn them?
MORRISON: No because the Minister himself has said it is similar to the proposal that was brought forward previously.
QUESTION: Are government’s not allowed to change their minds?
MORRISON: If governments are going to change their minds as they clearly have done on this occasion then they should explain it. They should explain that they were wrong in 2007 to abolish the measures that worked. They are not words you have ever heard pass this Prime Minister’s lips or her predecessor or this Minister or his predecessor. This is a government in denial.
QUESTION: So if Liberal moderates come out and support what the government puts to parliament, people that weren’t in favour of this in the Howard years, are they going to be accused by you of being hypocrites?
MORRISON: We’ll take the bill through the processes and members on our side of the House have always had the right and the ability to vote in a way that best reflected their view and their conscience on these matters. It’s not a conscience vote but as you know these matters work very differently in the Liberal party to those of the Labor party. I see it as a testament to the strength of the internal processes of our own party that we can always handle these issues as we did back in 2006. This bill was effectively demolished last time by the Labor party.
QUESTION: You said back in 2006 the only thing that’s changed since then is the Labor party is trying to save its hide. Isn’t the other thing that’s changed is the Houston panel recommendation?
MORRISON: I think the Prime Minister needs to stop hiding behind Angus Houston and start taking responsibility for her own policies and decisions. This is no longer anything other than this government’s policy. It’s not Angus Houston’s policy anymore, he did a report. He made some recommendations. When the government adopts that, it’s their policy. It’s now their policy. They need to take responsibility for it and they need to explain to...
Suite 102, Level 1, 30 The Kingsway Cronulla NSW 2230 P: 02 9523 0339 F: 02 9523 8959 E: firstname.lastname@example.org