House debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Bills

Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018; Consideration of Senate Message

5:20 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | Hansard source

The second issue that's referred to in the legal advice goes to the issue of whether or not, before this ultimately gets taken to the Governor-General, an appropriation would have to be made. For that reason, when we get to the next stage of the debate—and I'm referring to it simply because part of this amendment is that the amendments be considered immediately—the amendment that will later be used will contain these words: 'a person is not entitled to remuneration in respect to their position as a member of the panel'. In doing that, the two legal issues that have been raised will both be dealt with.

Now, I must say: if the government was so determined that this was a constitutional principle, why do you think the letter from the Attorney-General to the Speaker carried the final sentence: 'I provide the advice on a confidential basis for a limited purpose of assisting you in the consideration of the Senate amendments and would appreciate you not circulating it further'? If the Attorney-General were confident of his arguments, he would never have put that in. But he deliberately thought he would play a game of gazumping everybody on the final day. It takes a special Attorney-General to be able to deliver a 15-minute speech on this issue and not once refer to whether or not people who are ill can get medical care, but it was not referred to once.

I'm not going to delay the House a long time with this, but in the Attorney-General's speech he referred to the 1,200 people who drowned. I have to say that, whenever that figure is referred to, it should be added, every single time, that half of them drowned after the Liberal and National parties voted against the Malaysia outcome. The member for Warringah has made clear that that was an error, but today's Prime Minister still stands by a decision that may well have been able to save not just one or two lives but half the lives that were lost. At the Press Club, he made a comment, something like, 'Oh, you can't cut the number in half.' Well, we nearly did, and it will always hang over the members of the Liberal and National parties who chose to vote against an outcome not because they were outraged by it but because they knew it would work. They knew it would work; that was why. They wanted to keep the issue running all the way to the election.

What is in front of us now allows us to make sure that, when people need medical care, the decisions around their medical care are made by people who are medically qualified. This legislation would not have been required were it not for the fact that those calling out, 'It happens now,' have taken case after case through the courts trying to prevent people from getting medical care. That's why we've got to this situation and so—

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