The Importance of National Security, and the Morrison Governments Undermining of it

House of Representatives 1/08/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (10:52): I want to thank the member for McPherson for moving this motion, not for her overt politicised content of the motion—certainly not for that—but really for the entertainment value, for the gall, for the brazenness, for the chutzpah she demonstrated in waltzing into this chamber and bowling up such a politicised motion that was so true to form for that mob over there when they were in government and which continues for them in opposition. Remarkably, they just can’t help themselves.

Before I go on, I want to acknowledge the incredible work our national security agencies and the Department of Home Affairs play in keeping Australians safe and secure. Every day outstanding women and men across this portfolio protect us from those who would do us harm: terrorists, child sex offenders, violent extremists, traffickers, serious and organised crime groups and people smugglers. The Albanese Labor government is committed to supporting these men and women in their work. We respect them and we are grateful for the important work they do. The same cannot be said for those opposite. Why? In the past fortnight we have heard about how the former government and the former minister, the member for McPherson, disgracefully attempted to trash the impartiality of those very same public servants working to keep us safe. The former minister, on election day, 21 May, risked the lives of those people who are keeping our country safe, with one motivation only—not the success of the operation, not the safety of those involved, not the interests of Australia’s national security or our national interest; no, their only motivation was political. This has been their hallmark, using our foreign policy, our national security and our national interest as a political football that they can kick around as long as they can to protect their own jobs. They acted only in their interests, the interests of the Liberal Party, in a pathetic, craven, last-ditch effort to hold onto government.

The former government pressured public servants to make the ongoing operation public, leaked the operation to the media and then spammed voters with fearmongering text messages. In doing so, they showed nothing but utter disrespect and contempt for the uniformed officers that keep Australia and Australians safe. They put lives at risk.

The department’s report found that the former government sabotaged operational protocols that protect Operation Sovereign Borders for their own political gain. The findings of this report were shocking, but they weren’t surprising to most of us over here, because the former government has consistently tried to politicise our national security and our law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Home Affairs. So it frankly beggars belief that the former minister is moving this motion given her conduct, and the conduct of her former Prime Minister, on election day. The opposition shouldn’t be coming in here with this kind of motion. They should be coming in here and apologising to the Australian people, to our Border Force personnel and to the Department of Home Affairs staff.

Of course, this motion conveniently fails to mention the former government’s budget cuts to the very national security and law enforcement agencies we are discussing. Those opposite spent years attempting to cut funding from the AFP, and even left our high-risk terrorist offender regime unfunded from the end of 2022-23. This idea that terrorism is an issue that would only last for a single year is absolutely laughable and says everything Australians need to know about the approach of those opposite to national security. This motion seeks to question the ability of our national security agencies to work collaboratively.

Now, under our government, we have already made tangible changes in the interests of ensuring Australians are safe. All of the actions that we are taking are in the interests of our national security and in keeping Australians safe. This Labor government will not treat national security as a political plaything. We will not politicise them, we will not disrespect them and we will not compromise them. Unlike those opposite, we will always respect and support our outstanding national security agencies, because our objectives are aligned: they are Australia’s national interest.