House debates

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


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

6:52 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Denison, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

(1) Page 2 (after line 2), after clause 3, insert:

4 Application of amendments


     (a) the amendments (including any repeals) made by this Act have effect only for a period of 12 months from the commencement of this Act; and

     (b) any Act amended by this Act has effect after that period of 12 months as if the amendments had not been made.

In a previous life I was the chairman of the Information Oversight Committee, the intelligence body at the time responsible for coordinating intelligence on irregular immigration. I was also the Office of National Assessments representative on the Operations and Oversight Committee, which was the body at the time which had oversight of disruption operations against people smugglers, in particular in Indonesia. What became abundantly clear to me at that time, seeing all the information I was seeing, was that irregular immigration is not a border security problem. It is not a border security problem that can be dealt with with temporary protection visas, mandatory detention, offshore processing, the excision of Australian islands and so on.

What I saw was a highly complex humanitarian problem, a problem that required an equally complex solution. The solution needs to seek to deal with the situation in source countries, and give much greater assistance to countries of first asylum, such as Pakistan and Iran. The solution must also involve much greater cooperation with the authorities in transit countries, in particular intelligence cooperation and police cooperation to try and crack down on the people smugglers who are, after all, the only people who are doing anything illegal when it comes to irregular immigration confronting Australia. Unsurprisingly I do not agree with offshore processing and in particular I do not agree with the so-called Malaysia solution.

I do not agree with that in part because I do not think it is a particularly effective measure and also because Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, so there are scant safeguards in place should we send asylum seekers to that country. I do not want to support the member for Lyne's private member's bill. But in some ways my concern with that bill is irrelevant, because my understanding is that the member for Lyne has the numbers to see that bill succeed in the House tonight. So the best I can do is at least to put in place some safeguard to limit the damage that might be done by that solution.

I am moving this amendment that would, in effect, put a sunset clause into the member for Lyne's bill, so that any measures that might be decided by the parliament would only have a life of 12 months. In other words, we would all have 12 months to come up with a better solution and, in particular, to leverage off the sort of sentiment, interest and ideas that bubbled up this morning when something like 40 or more members of parliament met to try and find a way through this impasse. Having a sunset clause is good. It limits the member for Lyne's reform, and it gives us an opportunity, importantly during the term of this parliament, to come up with a better solution. With a sunset clause of 12 months only, this government, this parliament, this opposition will have to work together to find some sort of compromise and enduring solution.

I move this amendment and I seek the support of the House for it. But I must confess to finding myself in a diabolical ethical dilemma, because in moving this amendment and seeking the support of the parliament I have reached an agreement with the government that if the government is to support the implementation of a sunset clause I am then obliged to support the bill, which I will do.


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