Jun 27, 2012

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

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (19:27):  I rise to indicate the government’s support for the amendments that have been moved by the member for Denison. I find it astonishing, frankly, that the opposition have indicated that they will oppose this amendment, having earlier on in the day—all afternoon—said that they would support this amendment.

This amendment is to ensure that the amendments, including any repealed by this act, have effect for only a period of 12 months from the commencement of this act; and any act amended by this act has effect after that period of 12 months, as if the amendments had not been made.

This is a genuine position being put forward by the member for Denison, to ensure that there is accountability. Many speakers have made contributions in which they have indicated that this is a difficult issue, and they are not sure what will work or not. What we know is that what is there now is not working. We know and we have a reminder today of the most tragic kind. We have once again a tragedy off our shores.

I believe that the member for Denison is making a constructive contribution to the debate in putting this forward. I want to pay tribute to the member for New England, the crossbenchers, the members of the government and the members of the opposition backbench, all of whom met today and on Monday to try and work through the substance of these issues.

I disagree—respectfully—with the position put by the member for Pearce, but I commend her absolute genuineness in putting it forward and her absolute commitment to humanity.

We can have disagreements about the way forward on these issues because, quite frankly, if it were simple it would have been done. We know, for example, the idea that Nauru is a deterrent is no longer the case, given that it resulted in people settling in Australia. I come from a certain perspective in the party. Look at the contributions I have made as a member of Labor for Refugees, I am not comfortable with a whole range of things that are now being considered and implemented.

It is not easy. But you have to look at circumstances as they are, rather than as you would like them to be, and essentially acknowledge that we need to find real solutions and that what is on the table from this government is a real solution. So let’s give it a go, which is why I am supporting this position. I have taken a position that we need to advance on these issues. The fact that an independent member of parliament, the member for Lyne, has put forward this legislation in good faith to advance an outcome is significant. We have had considerable debate on these issues and I move that the question be put.