Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. I refer the minister to the Premier of South Australia’s criticism of the Woodside detention centre yesterday in the South Australian parliament in which he said:
… a lack of notice, a shortage of detail and uncertainty about how the facility will impact on the local community … is fuelling community concern.
Minister, that shortage of detail includes unanswered questions such as: what would happen to these 400 asylum seekers in the event of bushfire evacuations on catastrophic days in this high fire risk area? When will the minister travel to Woodside to answer this and many other concerns of local residents?
I did have a discussion with the Premier of South Australia yesterday. It was a very constructive discussion which he did report to the House in South Australia. He reported to the House, for example, that the federal government was dealing with the issue of education. The Premier of South Australia made it clear to the South Australian parliament, for example, that we had said very clearly that any school which does not have capacity to take extra students would not be asked to take extra students; that the federal government would work with the state government to explore all opportunities.
I am sorry to disappoint the member for Mayo but I am more than happy to go to Inverbrackie and I will be going to Inverbrackie to discuss these issues. What I will be doing there is engaging with community leaders who want to engage with the federal government to get a good result for their community. I will be engaging with people like Mayor Cooksley, just as I will be engaging with Mayor Pollard of Northam and the member for Pearce and the state member for Central Wheatbelt in Western Australia—two members, the member for Pearce and the member for Central Wheatbelt, who have very vigorously represented the views of their constituents, very vigorously stood up for their constituents, but have done so in a very constructive way, unlike the member for Mayo, who seems intent on engaging in Young Liberal stunts instead of representing his community.
What I will be saying to the people is also a continuation of the conversations I have had with both mayors, with the member for Pearce and with other community representatives—that is, on the matter of health, there will be no negative impacts on health services at either site whatsoever. The federal government has been very clear about that. In relation to education, we will work with the independent schools who have asked to take extra students from the facility at Inverbrackie. We will, if necessary, bring teachers into the facilities so there is no impact on local schools. I am confident that when that consultation is complete the people of Inverbrackie and the people of Northam may have a similar reaction to the people of Weipa. As I said yesterday on ABC Far North Coast—
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: the question specifically raised the issue of bushfires. I wonder if the minister might turn his attention to that in the answer.
Yesterday, on my favourite radio station, ABC Far North Queensland, Peter Miller, the acting chair of the Weipa Town Authority, said of our consultation in relation to the Scherger site, ‘I believe that the concerns of the committee have been addressed or are being addressed. Generally it is only positive things now for Weipa.’ That is what you can achieve when you engage positively. This government has engaged in far more discussion with the local community than the member for Berowra ever did when he opened detention centres at Baxter, Woomera, Curtin and elsewhere. This government is actually talking to local communities, something the previous government never did when they engaged in opening detention centres across the country.
Opposition members interjecting—
Order! It is time for one of my lectures, is it? No? Well just behave as you would expect your representatives to behave if you were looking at us from outside. I appreciate that there are certain issues where emotions rise to their greatest, but that does nothing for the policy issues which are under discussion. I warn the member for Berowra, who knows what he did was completely wrong.