Monday, 22 September 2014
Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014; Second Reading
I rise to speak on the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014. I am always keen to speak on bills that are about improving the integrity of our migration system, particularly as they result in enhancing our refugee and humanitarian program. I have always taken the opportunity of emphasising that migration is enormously positive to Australia. The benefits that it delivers are when the migration program is carefully constructed in order to reflect our interests in relation to skills that we might need, in relation to our interests in accommodating genuine and close family reunion but also in relation to enabling Australia to be a generous and supportive country to people who are in need of protection, who are unsafe where they are and who need a resettlement outcome.
The size and dimension of the problem is enormous. There is something in the order of 52 million people who are either refugees or people of concern around the world. As I frequently remind people as we talk about these issues, Australia cannot take them all. The idea that we should is, I think, naive. It prompts you to look very, very closely at the way in which we deal with border protection issues, because they go to the whole question of whether or not some people whose needs may not be as great are accommodated in terms of advantage for them over those who have a greater need. This has always troubled me enormously, I have to say.
I have been speaking at some gatherings fairly recently where I emphasised my own personal engagement in something like 41 years of public life. I can say that because today is the 41st anniversary of my election to parliament—