House debates

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Private Members’ Business

Asylum Seekers

9:01 am

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion to suspend so much of standing and sessional orders as would prevent the member for Cook from having notice No. 21, private members’ business standing in the name of the member for Mayo, called on immediately and debated.

Leave not granted.

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Cook from moving that standing orders be suspended to enable the Member for Mayo to move the motion standing in his name, viz.—That this House:

(1)
notes:
(a)
the announcement on 18 October 2010 by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship about the commissioning of a detention facility at Inverbrackie in South Australia costing $9.7 million to accommodate 400 people, consisting of family groups who are undergoing refugee status assessment;
(b)
that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship failed to consult with the State Government of SA, the Adelaide Hills Council and the local Woodside community on the commissioning of this facility; and
(c)
that the Prime Minister visited the Adelaide Hills on Sunday 17 October 2010 immediately prior to the announcement and made no mention of the plan to commission the detention facility at Inverbrackie;
(2)
provides a reference to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration to undertake the following inquiry:
(a)
that the Joint Standing Committee on Migration inquire into the commissioning of a detention facility for 400 people comprising family groups at Inverbrackie, including:
(i)
the suitability of the site for locating a detention facility for the purpose of accommodating family groups in comparison with alternative options available to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship;
(ii)
the impact of the operation of the facility on the local community, including on health, education, recreation, transport, police and other community services;
(iii)
the impact on defence operations, personnel and family groups based at the Inverbrackie facility;
(iv)
the impact of the facility on the local economy and small business;
(v)
the level of community support for the commissioning of the facility;
(vi)
the level of cost and extent of services and facilities provided to clients at the detention facility; and
(vii)
potential risks that need to be managed for the successful operation of the facility;
(b)
that the Joint Standing Committee on Migration undertake public hearings in Woodside, SA and Canberra, ACT to facilitate the participation of community members, local service providers, council officers and state and federal departmental officials to assist the Committee with its inquiry; and
(c)
that the Joint Standing Committee on Migration report back no later than the first sitting week of Parliament in 2011; and
(3)
calls on the Government to postpone commissioning the detention facility for 400 people including family groups at Inverbrackie, until such time as the Committee has reported and the Government has provided a response to that report to the Parliament.

This motion to suspend standing orders is a matter of urgency, to be debated today. This government has failed to consult and it has now asked to simply go ahead without the opportunity for this motion to be considered in the parliament. There is an opportunity today for the standing orders to be suspended to enable the member for Mayo to move this motion, which calls for a parliamentary committee to actually provide the consultation that this government has denied the good people of Woodside. This is a government that decided, without any consultation on this matter with the local community, to proceed with this facility. The parliament has the opportunity today to step up where this government has failed to do so. Where this government has failed to consult, this parliament has an opportunity, through its committee, to consult the people of Woodside, to hear their questions and to seek answers to their questions. This is an urgent motion. It requires consideration today. The opportunity to consider this motion again will not present itself for some weeks, at which time the government will have already proceeded and the horse will have already bolted.

Today we have an opportunity for this parliament to live up to all the huff, all the bluff and all the bluster that has been out there about some new paradigm. If there is a new paradigm operating in this parliament then this parliament would be able, through its committee, to talk to constituents about decisions of this government. And that is the heart of this motion. This motion, to be moved by the member for Mayo to seek consultation with his community, is all about ensuring that this parliament operates effectively to ensure that the views and concerns of his constituents are well known. It is true that this government failed to consult. It has been running around for weeks, if not months, looking at all sorts of potential facilities and myriad options, even undertaking works and spending taxpayers’ money on these contingency options and leaving people out there in the community completely in the dark. Even in this place yesterday, and the day before, the Prime Minister was unable to rule out more broadly things that this government may ultimately do when it comes to opening further detention facilities.

The government led people to believe before the election that there was no need to expand onshore detention facilities. They allowed that perception to be there, and fostered in the community, so that they could go ahead with their business on the other side of the election, if elected, and do what they always knew they would have to do—that is, expand their onshore detention network, because they have no answers when it comes to offshore detention and they have absolutely no answers when it comes to stopping the unprecedented, record level of arrivals of people in this country illegally by boat under the soft policies of the government, which they rolled back. They chose to roll these policies back; they chose to soften the policies—and as a result we have had 8½ thousand people turn up, on their watch, because of their soft policies.

Their detention network is in a rolling crisis. The only answer the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has is to open more beds. The only answer the Prime Minister has is a never-never solution on East Timor, which has been absolutely rejected by the former Prime Minister. He won’t touch it with a 50-foot pole as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and it has been hand-passed to the new Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to carry the can for what is an absolutely dud policy.

This a government where, when it comes to consultation on this matter, the minister has described the use of a parliamentary committee to talk to the people of Woodside, as ‘a political organisation’. Such is the disrespect for the committees of this parliament that the mere suggestion that a committee of parliament might go and talk to the people of Woodside is some sort of political act. I remind the minister that there are five members of the government on that committee, there is one member of the Greens on that committee and there are only four members of the opposition. This is a committee controlled by the government, and we are asking this parliament today to go and ask that committee to talk to the people of Woodside, because this minister will not.

This minister will not go and front the people of Woodside. He is happy to sit in an ivory tower—that classic scenario—and make decisions about what is going to happen in people’s communities and not front up. He is happy to send officials out there, as human shields for his own decisions, but he will not go down there and talk to them himself. He is happy to sit in his ivory tower, as so many of the ministers are happy to do. Whether it is in the Murray-Darling Basin, or down in Inverbrackie in Woodside, this is a government that will not consult, will not face the music for its own decisions and is happy to use public officials, in good-old New South Wales Labor style—sending out the public servants, corporate affairs people and media spin doctors—to run its line and not face the consequences of its own decisions. This is a minister who has refused to face the community, and this parliament should take the opportunity to step up where this government has so cowardly failed to do so.

This is a government whose members at the most senior levels—senior cabinet ministers—have described the legitimate questions and concerns of the Woodside community as ‘hysterical’. Now, I don’t know what happened to the rhetoric before the election, where the Prime Minister said, ‘Oh, we understand the concerns of Australians about boat arrivals to Australia; we understand there’s anxiety’. No, they do not. We knew they never did. And on the other side of the election they are happy to tell Australians who are concerned about this issue that they are ‘hysterical’. To use the Minister for Trade’s own words: they are ‘hysterical’.

So the people of Australia should know that this government consider the communities’ concerns about this matter so inconsequential that they are ‘hysterical’. They do not warrant consultation before facilities are imposed on communities without the opportunity for consultation. They do not warrant, according to this government, the opportunity for a parliamentary committee, a committee of this parliament comprising members from all quarters of this House and the other chamber, to go and talk to them when the government have failed to do so. They do not think that is appropriate. They do not think consultation is appropriate. The government have no policy when it comes to stopping the unprecedented rate of illegal boat arrivals to Australia. There are a record number of boats and people who have arrived this year. The government hold all the records when it comes to this: there are a record number of people in detention. They have no policy and they have no courage of their convictions when it comes to facing the community, so this parliament should do so on their behalf.

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