Jun 27, 2012

Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 – Consideration in Detail

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (19:43):  I can assure all members that this bill will be introduced into the Senate tomorrow and debated to conclusion. The Prime Minister’s office has already been in contact with the opposition and the crossbenches in the Senate to indicate that that is the case. And I suspect that the Manager of Opposition Business, with all this bluster, knows that is the case. We have seen extraordinary hypocrisy—

Opposition members interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke):  Order!

Mr ALBANESE:  No more extraordinary than the contribution by the Manager of Opposition Business. The debates and votes that we have had, the divisions where they have sat against concluding the debate in this House, where they voted against the negation of the adjournment debate—which would have concluded the debate at 7 pm—which would have meant that not only could it not be considered in the Senate, but it would have been back here in the House tomorrow. That was their position an hour ago. They cannot keep a consistent position for a minute, let alone an hour.

So let us get real about this. The Manager of Opposition Business just indicated that it would be our responsibility if children were put on boats because they would not be sent to Malaysia. The previous speaker from the opposition, the shadow Treasurer, said that kids would be sent to Malaysia. The inconsistency in their position is extraordinary. I have been in this place since 1996. I was here when the Tampa came in. I have been here during the entire period of the former government. I was here for ‘children overboard’. I was here for all of those events. What we have had here is sanctimonious nonsense from those opposite. The fact is that the government has a position on the table. It provides a real solution—not an easy one, but a real solution and a real opportunity to go forward. It is being done on the advice of the experts—people like Andrew Metcalfe. People like Andrew Metcalfe have briefed us in meetings we are not allowed to talk about.

Government members interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE:  And them. The experts have said this is the best way forward. So do I find it easy? No, I do not—on a personal level, not at all. It runs counter to a whole range of things I have said over a long period of time. But let me tell you: I am not prepared to be a cabinet minister in a government and say, ‘I was given advice by the experts and I chose an easy option.’

Mr Schultz interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  The member for Hume is out of his place.

Mr ALBANESE:  So this debate will be concluded in this House tonight. The arrangements and the deals from those opposite have been on the table and off the table. The inconsistency in them voting against the Wilkie amendment is just extraordinary—the position that we saw.

Mr Bowen interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE:  Earlier on they were holding press conferences saying it was a terrific idea. The sorts of positions that have been put forward are just extraordinary. The government’s position is that this is now being concluded. The House of Representatives—the people’s House and people’s chamber, democratically elected—will be determining a final position over the next few minutes. My request to the opposition is to put politics aside, vote for it, vote for it in the Senate and give it a go. What is the worst that can happen for those opposite politically? The worst that can happen for them politically is that it works. That is the attitude they bring to this debate, which is why people should support this legislation. I congratulate the member for Lyne on his initiative in advancing this legislation, which will now go through the House.