Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright—Government Whip) (20:15): I take this opportunity to thank the minister for being able to ask a question of him that pertains to his portfolio interest of immigration. In particular, my question goes to border security. Can I compliment the minister on Operation Sovereign Borders? As a nation, the evidence before us in the parliament is that clearly the operation is working. I need not remind the minister and the House that today marks 100 days since the last successful people-smuggling venture to Australia. As the previous speaker alluded to, that is a good thing because it does reduce that loss of life that we had at sea.
With reference to the last people-smuggling venture that arrived here, it was on 19 December last year. In contrast, if we go back 12 months to the same period of time in 2012-2013, 181 illegal boats arrived with no less than 12,135 passengers on board. The message of stopping the boats is resonating throughout the community and it is resonating throughout my electorate of Wright, and I take this opportunity to advise the House that in particular, new Australians are taking the opportunity to reach out to my office—and I am sure they are to the minister's office—in saying that they have come through the front door, as such, to enter Australia.
I have a sizeable Chinese community, over 13,000 people from the UK, just under 2,000 Germans, a large community of Hungarians, an Irish community, an Italian community and a Scottish community of nearly 3,000. All of them came through the front door and they are overwhelmed with praise for the current government's border protection policies. So the message is resonating in the community of Wright. They are pleased that the back door is being shut.
We must ask ourselves when we look back in history—and I take you to a point where both Greens and Labor said openly that the task of stopping the boats was too great. The task of stopping the boats was virtually going to be unachievable. So I take this opportunity to compliment the minister for the way that he has handled himself. I remember when the border protection policies of the Howard era were wound back. There was high-fiving in the parliament, there was backslapping and there were statements that resonated along the lines of, 'This is my proudest day in the parliament.' There were comments along the lines of, 'This is my greatest single achievement in the parliament.' If only those comments could be retracted by those people with the benefit of hindsight. I suggest that they would be revisited.
I compliment the minister on the way that he has gone about addressing our border security issues. He has done it quietly, methodically and purposely and with a result that heralds unprecedented success. But, of course, you are not the first person to have stopped the boats. I need only to look to the Howard government; it was reviled for its harsh policies that stopped illegal immigrants getting into Australia by boat, whilst in about 12 years they brought in about 2 million legal immigrants to Australia.
In contrast, for everyone who comes illegally, it means that someone coming legally loses their spot. Under Labor, over 800 boats arrived carrying more than 50,000 people, including more than 1,000 children. This catastrophic failure of policy resulted in over 1,000 lives being lost at sea, and no-one trivialises that. No-one would dare trivialise that. As a government, I am now proud to stand beside you, Minister. When we leave this place, whatever definition it may be under, I will make sure I include that in my valedictory speech.
We went to this election and we clearly said that, where possible, we would turn back the boats, we would introduce temporary protection visas and we would introduce offshore processing—all of which have been a successful foundation for stopping the boats. In particular, Minister, my question goes to your successful border protection policies and what effect it has had on the budget, in particular with the detention centres and the winding back of— (Time expired)