Asylum Seekers

This morning’s Courier Mail—

Senator Brandis: Hear, hear! Tell us about this morning’s Courier Mail, James.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Ignore the interjection, Senator McGrath.

Senator McGRATH: I cannot ignore the Attorney­General, Mr Acting Deputy President. This morning’s Courier Mail is inspired reading for everybody. I would encourage everybody in the chamber to have a good look at today’s Courier Mail, especially its front page.

Rather than talk about the hypocrisy of certain people in relation to yesterday’s events, I want to talk about the hypocrisy of certain people in relation to this MPI today. This is part of a concerted campaign by Labor and the Greens to undermine offshore processing Shame on you, because Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, and the new government were elected—you are not leaving, are you, Senator Milne? You might learn something! Please, you are breaking my heart!

Senator Brandis: Scurry off back to your monkey enclosure!

Senator Whish-Wilson: I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I ask that Senator Brandis withdraw that comment. We all heard it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brandis, I would ask that you do withdraw that comment.

Senator Brandis: I have not said anything unparliamentary. If I can be given some guidance as to what unparliamentary word I uttered, I would be happy to withdraw it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I would ask that you withdraw the comment that I clearly heard, as did other senators.

Senator Brandis: Out of respect for you, Senator Sterle, I withdraw the comment.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Brandis.

Senator McGRATH: I do recommend that everyone look at the front page of theCourier-Mailfrom today, because it is inspired reading.

Senator Brandis: It is an insult to apes!

Senator McGRATH: I feel sorry for monkeys everywhere! Now, Tony Abbott was elected—

Senator McLucas: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I am sure that my other colleagues down that end did not hear that Senator Brandis repeated the words that you asked him to withdraw just a moment ago.

Senator Brandis: No, that's not right!

Senator McLucas: I do request that he withdraw those remarks as well.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I did not hear Senator Brandis's remarks this time. I know what I asked him to withdraw before, but I am sorry I did not hear, because I was trying to listen to Senator McGrath, Senator McLucas. If there was anything untoward, Senator Brandis, I would ask that you withdraw it.

Senator Brandis: No, Mr Acting Deputy President. I merely pointed out that the cover of TheCourier-Mail from this morning is an insult to apes, which it is.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brandis, I think I know where you are going with that.

Senator McLucas interjecting—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I am desperately trying to add some decorum to this chamber and some of the comments are not assisting. Senator McGrath, would you like to have another crack without the comment on the Courier-Mail?

Senator McGRATH: I should not mention the front page of theCourier-Mail, so I will not do that, Mr Acting Deputy President.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McGrath, playing that game with me is dangerous.

Senator Hanson-Young: Rape and sexual assault is what is being discussed here!

Senator McGRATH: I am not going to take lessons from the Greens on morality.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McGrath, ignore the interjections and direct your comments through the chair.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Could you please instruct Senator McGrath to direct his comments through the chair, not directly at Senator Hanson-Young?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, I was actually doing so when all the screaming was going on, so I will just reiterate my words from about 30 seconds ago. Senator McGrath, please ignore the interjections and direct your comments through the chair. This is like groundhog day.

Senator McGRATH: It is sometimes like groundhog day here, Mr Acting Deputy President. Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, and the government were elected on the basis of stopping the boats, building the roads and infrastructure of the 21st century, getting the budget under control and paying back the debt. In terms of stopping the boats, that is what they have done. Since 19 December 2013 there has been one people-smuggling venture that has arrived here—only one. By comparison, for the period from 20 December 2012 to 1 October 2013, a total of over 20,000 illegal arrivals turned up on 290 boats. We are stopping the boats. What some people do not want to talk about is those who have been lost at sea. 'We don't want to talk about the 1,100 people who have perished at sea. No, we don't want to talk about that. No, we won't talk about that.' It is the silence of the lambs when it comes to talking about those 1,100 people. We do not care about those people! By stopping the boats, we are saving peoples' lives. Labor had over 11 failed approaches to border protection, which led to over 50,000 illegal arrivals on more than 800 boats. Illegal arrivals increased from two people per month in the last five years of the Howard government to more than 3,000 per month under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd-Green government.

Senator Reynolds: Shameful!

Senator McGRATH: Senator Reynolds, you are right. That is shameful. Certain people who come in here and cry tears but do not mention the 1,100 people who perished at sea have a false morality and are hypocrites. The government is doing what it said it was going to do. It is stopping the boats.

In terms of resettling in Cambodia, we said we were going to have a regional solution. We do have a regional solution: we are going to Cambodia. There is soft racism—and it is soft racism—about why Cambodia is not good enough for the resettlement of these people. Cambodia is a fine country. It is a good country. Those people sniggering and smirking about Cambodia should know that Cambodia will provide a safe home, it will provide an education and it will look after people—and those people will not be perishing at sea. I challenge people, through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, to talk about the 1,100 people at sea. Let us talk about those deaths. 'No, we will not!' There is a black hole of silence coming from a certain corner of this chamber, because they will not talk about those deaths. They will talk about anything else except those deaths and the number of lives that this government has saved through stopping the boats. (Time expired)