I acknowledge the wonderful contribution that the member for Forrest makes to this place, particularly on a debate that is so poignant to many across this nation. You do not necessarily have to have an electorate that has part of our borders in it. I know the member for Forrest does. She is a strong advocate for her community around shipping and security and has a keen interest in the area of immigration. I acknowledge her contribution to the House.
It is a great privilege to be able to speak in the House on the Australia Border Force Bill 2015 and the Customs and Other Legislation Amendment (Australian Border Force) Bill 2015 and to espouse some of the wonderful benefits and contributions that the government has made to this very important policy decision that we took to the election. As a Liberal Party we went to the election and said that we would stop the boats. We were ridiculed by some who said that we campaigned on three-word slogans. Others who commented truly believed that the boats could not be stopped—the epidemic and the influx of boats that were arriving—and that it was beyond comprehension as to how they could be stopped.
You have to remember that the previous government tried to adopt seven different positions, in vain, to stop the boats. But they were half-hearted attempts, because some on the other side genuinely wanted to stop the boats, but there were others with an alternative agenda who were quite happy to see those boats continue coming.
The Australian Border Force Bill 2015 establishes the role of the Australian Border Force Commissioner and enables the operation of the ABF within the department. This is the government delivering on its ongoing commitment to the enhanced border protection arrangements announced in this year's budget. As I just alluded to, the government has a strong record on border protection. This government recognises the importance of protecting our borders and the importance of national security. Our nation's borders are our defining trait, and they should be treated like a national asset. One of the strongest qualities that we have as a nation is that we are an island nation. We are so remote. When we invite colleagues in other parliaments around the world to come to Australia, they are most keen to come. However, it is normally followed up by: 'Gee, it's a long way. It is a long way to come to visit you in the parliament.' That in itself is a defence mechanism but, because Australia is such a sought-after destination, some will try to get here by whatever means possible. It is imperative that we strengthen our border security.
Our clearly defined borders have for a long time served us well in protecting our nation's security, as well as allowing us to implement trade and business to our economic advantage. However, as technology allows for national borders to be blurred and as globalisation becomes inevitable, the need for a level of focus on border protection appears vital. In the next four years, the volume of travellers and goods crossing our borders is projected to increase significantly against a backdrop of more complex cargo supply chains and passenger routes. You only need to look at the increase in exports with the amount of ship traffic. Every one of those transactions provides, in its own way, a potential security risk. This is not just about focusing on our border protection and on the very visual illegal entrants; it is also about monitoring all shipping, all transactions, all logistic movements either by air or by ship, which come with a very real biosecurity threat. The reason that we have, by all definitions, been successful in border protection policy is that we have streamlined a number of the departments which, to all intents and purposes, were working in silos. It was conducted under a relatively militant style of operation and, as result of that, the rewards of our efforts speak for themselves.
The consolidation of the department of immigration and Customs and the establishment of the ABF is a once-in-a-generation reform. It is expected to generate $180 million in efficiencies over the forward estimates, increasing to $100 million each year after that. The establishment of the ABF ensures the capability at the border to manage this growth effectively and efficiently.
It has been over 240 days since an illegal boat arrival in Australia. Operation Sovereign Borders has cut off people smugglers' ventures. The government started turning back the boats and there has only been one illegal boat arrival since last year—one boat a year, compared to 302 boats carrying over 20,000 people in 2013. We have made considerable gains in this portfolio. As a member of the government I am proud to stand and acknowledge the contributions that ministers have made in this area.
In closing I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of our border protection personnel and what they do in defending our nation's borders. I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program on HMAS Anzac. It was a border security exercise. It was off the coast of Africa where Somali pirate insurgents were prevalent inside the operational theatre area. The dedication of the men and women of our armed forces emulates the same commitment and passion of our immigration department and Customs and Border personnel who are protecting our border. Our country owes each of those departments a great debt. We owe them a great debt and should never forget the silent contribution that they make to our nation. I commend this legislation to the House.