MPI - The previous government’s failures to support those who keep, and have kept Australians safe.

Matters Of Public Importance

Minister For Immigration, Citizenship And Multicultural Affairs

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (15:47): The overriding premise of today's matter of public importance is 'keeping Australians safe'. When you come to federal parliament, the two key tenets of what we do here in federal parliament—and I often talk to my students about this when they come to visit us here in Parliament House—are the budget and defence. We are charged here in Canberra with those two strings to our bow.

The first part of this is really being able to balance the books, and we have been able to do that. We have been able to deliver three budgets now with budgets in surplus. Those opposite weren't able to do that, even though they did have the coffee mugs made and the press releases ready to issue. Even though they absolutely delight in saying, 'The problem with Labor is that they can't manage the books'—they say this by rote—here's the thing: we can manage the books. We have delivered surpluses. We've cut our deficit. We've cut the amount that we need to borrow to service the debt that our nation has. Treasurer Chalmers is doing a fantastic job. At an absolute base level for Australians, we are managing our economy far and beyond what anyone on the other side did for 10 years. In terms of safety, that is the primal thing for so many Australians. They want to know that they have a government that can manage the money like they do in their homes every day trying to pay their mortgage.

The other part of what we're sent here to do is defend the nation. We regularly ask other Australians to pull on a uniform in defence of this nation. I find it very curious that the opposition brings matters of public importance like this one, beating that drum of fear and trying to say to our Australian community, 'Oh, it's a shambles. It's no good. The immigration minister is not doing a good job,' when for 10 years they systematically underspent in areas of defence and immigration. We had a one-million-application backlog in immigration under their watch. People came here on planes. When people did come by boats—and they did—we had no knowledge. The coalition said, 'It's an on-water matter, and we can't talk about it.' So to suggest that we are doing a worse job than they did in their 10 years is, quite frankly, bunkum. It is despicable actually. Also, all they're trying to do is raise the fear of Australian people, raise their ire with our government, when we have turned up, cleaned up the coalition's mess and really we are making a fist of the dreadful hand that was dealt to us when we came to government. To suggest that we are not doing a reasonable job and trying to fix this matter and clear it up properly within the constraints of law, and the High Court, is beyond the pale. I find it quite frustrating and almost insulting from an opposition who—it is now quite obvious—have really no policies to bring forward to the Australian people. All they've got left in their bag of tricks is fear—

Mr Neumann: And loathing.

Ms SWANSON: and loathing, yes. Thank you, Member for Blair, for that interjection. It is fear and loathing and whipping up concern in the Australian community about a government that is delivering on tax cuts and health care and doing more in the education space. Some of us do remember promises like 'There won't be a dollar difference between Labor and Liberal when it comes to education.' Thank you, Christopher Pyne. And then they went ahead and cut the budget. Some of us have got long enough memories to be able to remember what was said over there and what was delivered. And let me tell you: with every promise we have made as a government, we have delivered, and that is the difference between Australians being safe and those opposite telling Australians they're safe, albeit to a Tom Cruise soundtrack—and that happened in my electorate, so don't try and tell me that didn't happen. I witnessed it. It's this whole thing of 'You're not safe, and they're not doing a very good job with immigration.' Let me tell you: we are doing a far superior job than anyone opposite did for 10 years. (Time expired)