House of Representatives August 15, 2012

Greens will disappear

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (12:37): In rising to say a few words on the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures ) Bill 2011, my remarks are coloured by the fact that the last time I was in this House listening to this debate a number of the Liberal and National Party members were crying, wiping tears away from their eyes.

I have raised in this House probably 100 times the farm deaths in Australia. Every four days in Australia a farmer commits suicide. I cannot remember a single occasion on which a member of the ALP or the LNP raised this issue or commented upon it, except to question my figures which were ABS figures. Why did they not cry about their own people in Australia? They must know some of these people. To cry about someone in the abstract when you cannot cry a tear in sympathy for your own Australian people leaves one with the impression that we a dealing with hypocrisy on a grand scale.

In addition, the opposition have a solution—the Malaysian solution. They are absolutely determined to play politics with that solution.

I am not going to act as though I am an angel of morality. In fact, in my first vote I was heavily influenced by political considerations. It does not give me great joy to admit that in this place.

Clearly, if a refugee, a self-smuggler, paying money to get into this country knows he is going to end up in Malaysia, he ain’t going to pay the money or get on the boat. So the Malaysia solution clearly is what should be being done. It is an absolute disgrace and a reflection upon the 60 or 70 hypocrites to my right here in this parliament that none of them have made a move in that direction. When I say that, I would have to include myself in the first round of voting. At least I can say that I have since woken up to myself and seen the overwhelming power of the argument for the Malaysia solution. There is merit in the Liberal remarks that it may not stand up for a great period, but when they are coming in at the rate of 200 a week, then I would think every week that we buy is very important. Clearly, that is the direction in which we should be travelling.

As for those Greens, I think we can safely say that after the next two elections there will be no Greens left in the parliaments of Australia. Clearly, the Australian people have realised what they are dealing with there. The forces of political consideration, when hundreds of people are drowning every month, override human lives and the considerations of this country, which brings me to the nub of what we are talking about here.

Countries in the Middle East that spawn terrorism are not happy places to live at the best of times. They are highly restrictive and oppressive societies in most cases, and they are dangerous societies in most cases. Most of all, they are poor. The people live in grinding poverty. Average incomes are $3,500 a year; ours are nearly $2,000 a week. If people living in a country where their income is $3,500 a year can get into a country where, with a wife and two kids they do not even work—they go on unemployment benefits—and they will get $50,000 a year, it seems to them to be a pretty good arrangement, particularly if they are staying with relatives in Sydney—in a lot of cases on a freebie.

Australia has created the world’s greatest magnet for refugees. Australia pays welfare of $50,000 a year to families who come from countries where their income would have been $3,500.

You may need proof positive of what I am saying, that these people are not genuine refugees. The 250,000 people in Malaysia are most certainly genuine refugees because they just fled across the border to get away from persecution—Buddhist and Christian people, the Karen. They fled across the border to Malaysia and there is no question that they are genuine refugees. But if you are a refugee fleeing from the western end of the Middle East, why have you not gone to Azerbaijan, to Kazakhstan, to Afghanistan, to Pakistan or to Sri Lanka? There are 20 countries to which you would have gone if you were a genuine refugee—to the nearest country, as did the Karen. All refugees flee to the nearest country. These people are not genuine refugees. They are going past 15 or 20 countries where they would be culturally at ease, not going to a country that is enormously different. Why are they doing that? I can give you [$]50,000 reasons why they are doing that.

They say, ‘What are my chances of getting into Australia? Under the Liberals, I had a two in three chance of getting into Australia. I knew if I could get on a boat that out of the three of us two would get into Australia. So I will just jump onto the next boat.’ They knew they could get into Australia under the Liberals.

It has been infinitely easier to get into Australia under the ALP. The ALP have put up one solution, which is vastly superior to anything else put on the table to date, and they have now retreated to a solution which, it would seem to me, is no solution at all. It is just a reassertion of the ‘get into Australia any time you like’ policy.