House debates

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015; Second Reading

9:54 am

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015, a piece of legislation designed to insert a statutory framework into the Migration Act for the use of force in specified circumstances within Australian immigration detention facilities. I do not know about you; but, if I am flying home to Brisbane at the end of a week in parliament, I would like to think that the balance of probabilities is not good enough for that plane getting me safely back to Brisbane. I would like to think it would be beyond reasonable doubt, but that is not the world we live in. It is a world of power and privilege, and those who have means sometimes deny access to those means to others. That is the reality of the world with six billion or so people.

There are many refugees who are starving to death, suffering from the impact of climate change or—heaven forbid!—want to give their children a better life, and they have been on the move. Last time I checked, there were about 43 million, but since Syria and ISIS we are probably nudging 50 million people dislocated throughout the world. Of those 50 million or so, the number that can actually meet the definition of refugee under the UN convention is probably only about 13, 14 or 15 million.

And then let's look at the countries of the world that actually will take refugees, not just have refugees turn up on their border and take them in because they either have no choice or are humanitarian countries. Let's look at the number of countries that actually settle refugees under a program where they offer them support and do not just let them run free at the docks or the airport; they provide them support and say this is the American way, the Canadian way, the Dutch way, the Australian way or whatever to make a harmonious society. There are not that many. The countries that do this are basically the US first and then, effectively, Australia and Canada second and third, although both Australia and Canada have decreased their intake lately. Then after that there was pretty much daylight fourth and then the Scandinavian countries and a few others that took a few but no significant numbers—not enough to make a dent in the production line of refugees that war, famine, ignorance and misguided ideologies are visiting upon the planet.

So, whilst we would like to think there is an orderly queue everywhere and we can just process those who are in the worst hellhole—because obviously the UN High Commission for Refugees wants to take those from the worst hellhole, put them at the front of the 'queue' and then settle them, effectively, in the countries that will take them on. But I needed to get that moral equivalence out there first: remember, if you are starving to death, you are not classifiable as a refugee; you have to starve to death in the country of your choice unless wealthier countries give aid to you. A wealthy country like Australia gives at the moment, I think, about 22c for every $100 to the countries that are poorer than us. I think that is about go down to about 17c or 18c from last night with that latest $1 billion in cuts. So we are not giving a great deal of money as a nation to the worst countries in the world. As private individuals we are actually probably a little bit more generous. I would take an interjection from the member for Canberra. I think private individuals are probably a bit more generous than the government in terms of making a contribution.


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